Sonshine Book Club #1: How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb
Before 5, children don't have a strong sense of gender permanence - they can imagine growing up to be mum, dad or uncle Fred. After that, they tend to realise that the genitals your chromosomes handed you have some further bearing on your life, but it's not them peddling tired old stereotypes about what boys and girls can and can't be, it's the adults around them. In many ways, it'd be ideal if the preschoolers could just pick up the gender-stereotype-smashing baton and sort all this crap out. Annoyingly, most of them don't read all that well yet, and their reasoning skills leave a little to be desired. So the Sonshine book club is an occasional nudge to force us all to read a bit and think a bit.
Here's how it works.
We propose a book. You rush to the shops and buy it. Everyone reads it. We all let each other know what we think about it, on our social channels or (more likely) we just read it and digest it at our leisure. Either we have a great chat, a trolling row, or we just have time to think about what we've read. With Christmas rushing towards us, we've picked something from our gift list for parents to kick us off: Robert Webb's How Not To Be A Boy.
In this funny, poignant, clever and self-aware memoir, Webb explores how his own expectations about what boys and men were supposed to be damaged his ability to have equal relationships - with men and women. We hear a lot about toxic masculinity - this is a great way to start laughing at it. It is funny. Really funny. And properly, meaningfully touching. I cried. And snorted with laughter. (Not at the same time.)
It's a good page-turning read too, so put it on your Christmas list (or someone else's). We'd love to hear what you thought - in the comments here or on Facebook or Instagram. We'll stick a few thinking points in the comments here (no spoilers).