Monday, June 25, 2018

Girl Wise

Girl Wise, Sharon Witt

I find myself on the lookout for resources for my kids addressing the various stages they are up to, and so discovered the Girl Wise series by Sharon Witt. She’s an Australian author and speaker who regularly addresses the issues of childhood and adolescence. She has four books for girls aged about 7-12:

  • A girl’s guide to friends
  • A guide to being YOU!
  • A girl’s guide to life
  • A guide to taking care of your body

With pretty fonts, illustrations and graphics, they are likely to appeal to numerous girls as they give advice on various topics. They are full of quotes and stories from real girls, and so read very naturally. In fact, the entire look of them means they are more likely to appeal to more ‘girly’ girls, being in pastel colours with twirly fonts. Having read all four, there are two I would prefer to recommend, the one on friends and the one on caring for your body.

It’s worth clarifying that I started these books expecting them to be Christian, as I bought them in a Christian bookstore. They are theistic and mention God at points, there are some bible references, and occasional suggestions to pray to God. But they aren’t really Christian, because Jesus Christ is never mentioned.  In some ways, they echo the mindset of moral therapeutic deism (a term recently used in regard to young adults (see here and here). Once I realised I couldn’t expect them to provide Christian teaching, then I was able to read them in a different frame of mind, with different expectations.

A girl’s guide to friends is a helpful manual for girls navigating the tricky reality of primary school friendships. There is helpful advice on how to make a new friend (smile, make eye contact, ask questions, be yourself). There are definitions of what makes a good friend (friendly, kind, trustworthy, respectful, etc) and tips for keeping friendships healthy. There’s a section on bullying but also about the reality of normal conflict with friends and how to talk through problems with each other. There are tips for things to do together, and ways to care for a friend who is sick, grieving or away for a while. All helpful stuff and it would be very useful for many girls in the Year 2-6 age range.  One thing I would have liked to see was a mention of being friends with boys, and that it’s normal to have boys as friends, and just friends.

A guide to taking care of your body was instructive and informative and probably provides information that they may not have to date. The details about various body systems helps girls to understand the way their bodies work, and why it’s important to keep everything working well. The instructions on eating well, getting enough sleep and taking care of your teeth and hair are all practical, as is the beginning of the discussion on some body changes that will happen. I would have liked to see some encouragement to cleaning your body well (good bathing habits) and perhaps the need to start considering deodorant.

All in all, these books offer helpful advice to younger girls. There is an encouragement to see they are special, and they can be happy to be who they are. Christian parents will want to extend the teaching and point out that yes, it is true that God made you special, you are unique and he loves you; and then temper it with reality that we are also sinful, and our hearts have turned away from God, and we can only live in a way that pleases him because of his grace, not because of who we are or what we do. You are special because you are God's child.

They will suit many girls aged about 7-10, and some older ones as well. Because they are Australian means they read quite naturally for our audience and that is often appealing. They could make good gifts too, particularly if you are looking for a positive message, but one that’s not too faith specific.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for your recommendations. I appreciate your discernment and Christian perspective - it's a very timely resource for my two daughters!