There are many books in the niche of challenging gender norms… and most of them are a waste of time because they are such an amazing mismatch with the day to day lived experience of their target audience. Read a book like that to a group of six year olds and they’ll dismiss it in seconds AND give you an emphatic earful to boot. (It seems to me that culture often trumps education).
Fortunately, Of Course They Do shows examples of men and women who violate norms without moving so far to the edge of culture that students can easily dismiss them. The opening line states, “Boy’s don’t dance” is accompanied by an image of two young female dancers. But turn the page and you find a male hip-hop artist in motion. “Boys don’t jump rope” is followed by an image of a male boxer jumping rope in an urban looking gym. “Girls don’t know about cars” is disarmed by a female professional race car driver and so on.
Oddly the one exception to this is the cover image: boys playing with baby dolls still don’t get a pass in many US cultures. But this brings us to an interesting point. This picture book was originally published in France by author Marie-Sabine Roger and photographer: Anne Sol. Perhaps in France this is no big deal. Meanwhile on the US side of the equation Of Course They Do reminds us not to constrict definitions of gender norms to cultural expectations which (on closer examination) are a mismatch with everyday life.