Thursday, March 8, 2018

#GirlsMustPlay : Back to the Playground

The conversation started with these lines :
There’s a phenomenon that disturbs me: we in India do not seem to let girls play. 
Once girl children pass toddlerhood, the space for them in public places seems to vanish. They can play to some extent in school compounds (in girls’ schools as far as I have observed, and not so much in co-ed schools) and within the confines of 'acceptable' sports. But how often does one see girls playing in empty lots, or, during bandhs and holidays, on the streets?
When we received an invitation to participate in the conversation around #GirlsMustPlay, we immediately knew we wanted to join this conversation. 

And how do we join the conversation? Through the way we know best - Books! Assistant Editor, Sherein Bansal, puts together a list of books for the #GirlsMustPlay campaign.


Girls are missing out. Many societal restraints make them minimize themselves, stay home and not express their physicality. From play grounds to sport tournaments, from swings to cricket fields, we need them front row and centre. It’s up to us to continue to create safe public spaces for girls, to actively encourage them to be free, and to show our boys that girls have every right to play in the same places that they do.

Many parents and educators read books to children. Since the retentive power of stories is quick and immense, reading those books to kids that reflect gender equality is a great idea.

Here are some of Pratham Books titles that you can read with your children that showcase female protagonists that confidently explore the outside world in some way or the other.


A girl runs after a ball on every page of the book, and takes us along this funny and colourful chase.

Dipa was the first Indian female gymnast to compete in the Olympic Games!

Kalpana is determined to learn how to ride her cycle. No matter how many times she falls.

Fatima goes on an adventure with her unlikely friend Gopa the dormouse into a world of trees!


It’s the Football Cup! But Divya has a cold. How will she play?

Shama takes Kaveri and Shivi to see spiders. Lots and lots of spiders.

In this spotting book, Mia is playing hide and seek. She hides wherever she goes. Can you find her?

From grandmothers to girls, everyone in this book is excited about playing and coaching hockey. It’s time for the girls to play a match against the boys.


Children are shown playing in the street in this adorable wordless book.

Manu has chicken pox, but longs to go back to her hopscotch!

Three children set out to play on the street. Suddenly, the street becomes a zoo of animals!

A girl visits her grandmother, decides to climb a tree, and hide where nobody can find her.


It’s a beautiful journey of a solo traveller who sleeps under the stars.

Ku-oooh! Ku-ooooh! A koel calls. Stella and Parvez chase the sound in search of the koel.

Granny can’t stop. She must juggle anywhere she goes, and with what whatever lies at her arm’s reach.

Neema loves to eat. Let’s get our fill of delicious fruits and vegetables as the seasons come and go.


Miss Laya is a spunky games teacher. The girls in her class follow suit. It’s time for fun and games!

A simple tale of a girl drawing a train on the street and having fun!

A girl loves drawing kolams. She draws them on the ground, on the walls... and even on the kites. Something extraordinary happens next.

Four friends race their toy cars. Who wins?

Other publishers on StoryWeaver like Book Dash have stories about specially abled athletes like Zanele Situ, about Nita, a young girl in a playground, and about a girl who plays with her red ball. African StoryBook Initiative have stories about games played with friends, or a girl who wants to go out and play in the rain.

All these books have girls reclaiming public spaces and having plain old fun. It’s important to feed boys and girls a healthy diet of female representation in the physical world. Let’s take a cue from these joyful characters. Girls, it’s time to indulge in some healthy childhood exuberance and take back your streets!

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