‘Made by Raffi’ is a superb children’s book about tearing down gender stereotypes and highlighting the beauty and talent of sensitive quiet children.
Raffi doesn’t like the hustle and bustle of the school playground at break time and instead he seeks out a quiet place to sit. (Sound like anyone you know? This fact alone made my heart swell a little).
One day he sees his teacher knitting; she shows him how to do it and he gets hooked. He takes the rainbow scarf he is knitting for his father everywhere he goes, even on the school bus despite the taunts from other children about his ‘girly’ hobby.
Before long Raffi’s classmates discover just how talented he is when he surprises them all for a class play……..
This story is a lovely themed story which tackles gender stereotypes head on and encourages children to follow their own heart and passions. Raffi is a fabulous role model for the creatives to let their talents guide them, and ignore others who tell them what they ‘should’ be interested in because of their gender.
It particularly appeals to me because I am a knitter and I have taught my eldest son to knit, an activity that turns out to be a great bucket emptier (as is finger knitting). My 6 year old has also recently taken an interest and successfully knitted a scarf for his cuddly monkey, much to his delight. So certainly in our house boys holding knitting needles is a normal sight. And so it should be. And it should also be said that my eldest sews better than I do……
Too often we read about gender stereotyping when it comes to girl’s toys but boys also suffer from the same dismissive attitudes. And it needs to change. There is no toy or activity that should be labelled for girls, and the same applies to girls playing with ‘boy’s toys’.
The writer, Craig Pomranz, uses the word tomgirl in this book, a word that made me smile. I applaud any writer who knocks gender cliches on their head! And in writing ‘Made by Raffi’, Pomranz has done a wonderful job.
He was inspired to write this book by a true life incident and he says:
“I wrote the book to support young boys and girls who are perceived as “different” because of their appearance or hobbies. It is a funny colorful book with a serious message and will interest those who care about promoting diversity and embracing our differences, as well as all children seeking to fit in.” Craig Pomranz
Made by Raffi is available in 11 countries in 8 different languages: English, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch.
There’s also an accompanying song which composers Amanda McBroom (Bette Midler’s “The Rose”) and Michele Brourman (The Land Before Time) have written. You can find the song here: Different.