Mary Wears What She Wants

Mary Wears What She Wants

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and in honor of the daily contributions women make to our world, we revisited this newly published book: Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley. This is the story of Mary Edwards Walker, one of the first women known to wear pants and disrupt the norm in her time.

The opening of this book captures the attention (and causes some gasps) of five and six year olds– in just two sentences: Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls weren’t allowed to wear pants. Can you imagine?

And let the discussion begin.

The first time we read this book, I wish I could have recorded all the thinking and discussion that was rampant in our circle time. I captured a few gems, jotting as quickly as I could:

B: “Well, that’s just ‘heartbroken’. I wear pants everyday. What did she wear then?” 

S: (Bringing the silly): “Did she just wear underwear?” (Of course you can’t have a serious discussion at this age about anything clothing related without the word underwear. It just rolls off the tongue.)

A: “I wonder why. Who said that?”

As many discussions continued throughout the week, I was reminded of just how innocent children really are. And of the importance disrupting bias and bringing it to a level of consciousness at this tender age.

Mary often said, in response to the challenges thrown at her for wearing pants, “I don’t wear men’s clothes, I wear my own clothes.” 

This line alone, along with the endpapers in Keith’s book, provoke a plethora of rich discussion and open the door in a child-friendly way to many social justice issues still plaguing our world.

This week, we’ll open our kindergarten writing workshop up to advocacy. “What problems do you see in your world and how will you fix them?” I’ll share some of their thinking in future posts!





8 thoughts on “Mary Wears What She Wants

  1. Thanks for bringing this charming book to our attention, and giving us a glimpse into your classroom. I love the reminder how irresistible “underwear” is, to bring up in discussion! And seriously, our schools have students with gender discomfort who may also take comfort from this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love hearing about this book. I had no idea. The school where I teach only began allowing women to wear pants in the mid-90s. I started there in ‘89.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Real World Problems, Kindergarten Style! | livelifelovewords

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