When Gina Foley started asking Stoke schoolchildren what they thought girls were like, she was surprised at the answers.
“They were all very gender stereotyped,” she says. “They said ‘they like to look in the mirror,’ or ‘they have long hair’.”
Having two young girls of her own, the author and illustrator was keenly aware of the attitudes that her children sometimes brought home.
“I want them to know that girls can play with any toys or wear whatever they want and decide what to do with their own body.”
But having that conversation can be tricky. So, Gina decided to write a book about it.
Created with help from a Creative Communities Grant, ‘Wonderful Girls’ aims to break down stereotypes, celebrate difference, and encourage girls to be who they were born to be.
Gina found that when she asked the schoolchildren a different question, there were different answers.
“I changed the question to ‘what are you like?’ and ‘what are the girls you know like?’. Then the answers changed to ‘my aunty is a police officer’ or ‘I like to pull silly faces’.”
She then built a story around those answers, and even got local children to help draw some of the illustrations.
Gina says she has always written stories, but illustrating was new to her.
“Which is partially why all the characters are lady bugs, because I can’t draw people.”
The result is exactly what Gina hoped for – a fun way for her to talk to her girls about being empowered.
“I want them to be whatever they want to be and not restrict them to fit into any box.”
She says it’s exciting to finally see it published and recently headed to Stoke Kindergarten to read the result to the children there.
Gina says it is the first of a series of children’s books she hopes to publish through her new company “Wonderful Books”.
You can order your own book by heading to https://www.wonderfulbooks.store/