Raffi is a schoolboy who doesn’t like rough and rowdy play. He likes calm and quiet; he dresses a bit differently than the other boys; he feels different. Like most kids, Raffi isn’t sure what that means, but then he finds his passion when a teacher teaches him how to knit. Raffi suddenly realizes the struggle—and importance—of what it means to be himself.
Made by Raffi, written by Craig Pomranz and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, is a children’s book that tackles the issue of gender stereotypes. The struggle for Raffi is a common one many school age kids, specifically boys, deal with every day. Our children are being bombarded with images and messages of what it “means” to be a boy or girl.
In a brilliant project done by SheKnows and Common Sense Media, boys were asked what it meant to be manly. The answers ranged from comparing manly to being emotionless to manly being the opposite of being girly; the boys understood that both meanings carried negative connotations, yet still defined the word the way they commonly hear it described.