Our daughter Charlie is a little bit all over the place when it comes to her hobbies and likes. She is obsessed with both the Rube Goldberg Machine and the planetarium at the Franklin Institute, has told us multiple times lately she wants to be a "scientist that studies shark teeth", spent most of 2017 telling everyone she is an artist, and is fascinated by all things big cat: tiger, cheetah, puma - you name it, she loves it. Oh, and glitter. The kid loves her some glitter.
With her curiosity in mind, I have been thinking a lot about what to get her for Christmas this year. We are far from religious, and the holiday is very much more about tradition and family (and eating) than it is anything else, so I'd be perfectly fine eschewing gifts all together. As a very aware five year old, though, Charlie is fully cognizant of what happens around this time of year, and expectations are high.
When considering our yearly gift guide, I wanted to focus on a concept I've been thinking a lot about since having a daughter, and even more so now that she is getting older and is so aware of her surroundings (and, if I am being totally honest, especially in the current political climate): Raising Smart Girls. There is SO much out there today - much more so than in the hyper-stereotyped toys of my youth - that embrace the intelligence, individuality, diverse interests, and skills of girls. Below are just a few of the gifts I'd recommend for the curious and intelligent girls - or boys! - in your life.
1 / POP CHART LAB POSTERS
Probably the only Facebook ad link I have ever clicked on (and who knows what weird algorythm lead it to my feed in the first place), Pop Chart Lab is a NYC-based design company that makes amazing charts of everything from the history of sneakers to a collection of freshwater fish in N. America. They have a dedicated "kids" selection, but I find many of the "other" topics to be perfect for young people interested in history, nature, or space.
I'm confident Charlie would love The Chart of Cosmic Exploration, Dinosauria, or A Sea Full of Cetaceans. (But now that I think about it, she would probably like the cetacean one more if it was actually sharks instead, so I think I'm leaning towards the dinosaurs....) If whales, dinosaurs, or planets aren't your thing, there are tons of subjects that would appeal to any kid - Superpowers, anyone??
2 / CRYSTALS, DINOSAURS, AND FOSSILS, OH MY!
With a kid who has interests as diverse as gemstones, dinosaurs, and sharks, it is sometimes hard to know where to turn. Princess Awesome is just one of the girls clothing brands out there that celebrate girls like Charlie who love sparkles and science. These dinosaur leggings (with pockets!!) are pretty much her dream pants. If your kiddo is more into space than extinct animals, this rocket dress is pretty sweet.
At some point in the last few months, Charlie discovered crystals as science and she is really into them. She now has a rock collection, and has been obsessively searching on the computer for different gemstones and crystals in order to draw and label them as part of her "science projects". We own the DK Smithsonian: Animal! book and Charlie absolutely loves it. The DK Smithsonian Rock and Gem book seems like the perfect addition to her science library, or any kid's library eager to know more about geology and nature.
And Mega Shark Teeth. Need I say more??
3 / A LIBRARY OF EMPOWERMENT
I first heard about Rachael Ignotofsky when asking some of my friends about STEM books with positive female narratives and immediately scooped up her book, Women In Science. Each bio is well written and beautifully illustrated, and Charlie loves picking out a new woman to read about each night!
I have loved The Paper Bag Princess since I was a child ("Ronald, you may look like a prince, but you are a bum!!" Hah!), and Charlie, too, thinks it is hilarious that Elizabeth so deftly outsmarts the dragon. The subtle humor, empowerment, and independence in the story is a perfect lesson we all need sometimes.
Iggy Peck is an Architect and Rosie Revere is an Engineer, and Ada Twist is a scientist. All three books in this series are well written, delightfully illustrated, and empowering in a really lovely and subtle way. Ada just happens to be a young girl and a scientist, and that is wonderful, and totally normal and acceptable - the way it should be!!
There are so many wonderful books out there for young girls who love science, math, and like to be independent. A Mighty Girl is a great resource for those looking for a book to satisfy anyone if the above three aren't quite what you're looking for.