When 8-year-old KC Cooper saw something she didn’t like at her neighborhood bookstore, she decided to roll up her sleeves and do something about it.
The child and her mother, Constance, were shopping at Half Price Books in Berkeley, California, when her mom says KC held up two books for her to see as her eyes began to well. “She was looking at two books that had made her so enraged she was actually in tears,” Constance says.
The offending books were titled “How To Survive (Almost) Anything,” and there were two versions: one for boys, and another for girls. The boys’ book contained situations such as “How to Survive Whitewater Rapids” and “How to Survive a Shark Attack” while the girls’ version included such gems as “How to Survive a Fight With Your BFF” and “How to Survive a Breakout.”
The rampant sexism of the book’s content really riled KC up. According to her mom, the last straw was the “How To Survive a Camping Trip” story. Constance explained to Today that KC loves camping. Rather than teaching a kid how to love camping, the girls version was a sad plea to “make the best of it.”
A bookstore employee noticed that KC was upset and asked her if there was anything she could do. Constance says, “After looking through the books, the employee agreed they were offensive and pulled them from the shelves! She said if she had seen them first they wouldn’t have been there to begin with. She was great because she took action and validated my daughter’s feelings.”
The manager for Half Price Books, Joshua Lynn, told Today that the books were not actually removed from the store, they were simply moved to another area. In any case, Constance, a science fiction writer, saw the incident as a teachable moment, saying, “I saw this as an opportunity to explain to my daughter that it’s not always girls who are hurt by sexism, but boys too. For instance, the boys’ version of the book implies that all boys do is fight and deal with disasters. In reality they might actually benefit from a lot of the advice in the girls' book, like ‘How to Survive Shyness’ or ‘How to be a Brilliant Babysitter’.”
Constance added, “As adults, we see so much of that sort of thing, and we get worn down. I hope my daughter will continue to think critically about the messages she's given in our culture and speak out when she thinks something is not right.”
We agree. Keep fighting for your rights, KC!