Tired of stereotypical characters in books for girls, this dad wrote his own.

Browsing through the children's book section, you might notice a common theme among the books targeted toward girls:


So. Much. Pink. Image by Robynlou Kavanagh/Flickr.

And, look, there's absolutely nothing wrong with pink and princesses. But let's be honest: There aren't a whole lot of job openings for princesses these days. What about books that tell girls they can grow up to be anything they want, like firefighters and police officers?

Enter Charles C. Dowd, a dad who decided it was about time to remind our girls they can do — and be — anything. And he's doing it with this awesome board book.

All book images by Charles C. Dowd, used with permission.

Dowd was inspired to write "The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls" after he and his son, a junior in high school, were talking about college majors and career options. His younger daughter piped in, and before he knew it, they were deep in a conversation about why boys can do certain things that girls cannot.

"That led to a conversation about traditional and stereotypical gender roles and why none of that really applies in modern society," Dowd told me. "It also pointed out to me that regardless of how encouraging my wife and I are, our daughter is still being influenced by friends, teachers, media, and everyone else."

And so the book idea — with the tagline "You can be anything you want to be!" — was born.

'Cause the thing is, girls can be anything they want, like a chef:

Or a heavy metal guitarist:

Or a librarian:


Dowd doesn't hate pink and princesses nor does he have a problem with our kids' varying interests.

But, as he says, society "likes to tell kids that there are boy things and girl things, but in my opinion, they're all just things."

"Why can't girls play with normal Legos? Why do they have to have special pink ones?" he wonders. "It makes no sense. Why can't a girl play with Hot Wheels? Why can't a girl aspire to be a professional athlete? Why can't girls be strong?"

All good questions!

And the fact is, gender bias in books is real.

Florida State University led "the most comprehensive study of 20th century children's books ever undertaken in the United States." This probably won't come as a shocker, but what they found is that there's a gender bias toward male lead characters — even in books about animals.

Janice McCabe, assistant professor of sociology, led the study. She noted:

"The widespread pattern of underrepresentation of females that we find supports the belief that female characters are less important and interesting than male characters. This may contribute to a sense of unimportance among girls and privilege among boys. The gender inequalities we found may be particularly powerful because they are reinforced by patterns of male-dominated characters in many other aspects of children's media, including cartoons, G-rated films, video games and even coloring books."

Let's fix that — for all of our kids.

At the end of the day, Dowd's goal is simple: "I just think it's important to teach kids (and adults for that matter) that gender really doesn't have anything to do with choosing a career path. If a person has the drive, determination, and the talent, they can pretty much pursue any career path they choose.


Dowd is running a Kickstarter so he can publish the book. As of the end of September 2015, he's pretty close to being funded. If you're interested in supporting him and getting your own copy of "The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls," you can head over to his page and make a contribution.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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