Songs for Our Sons – Ruth Doyle & Ashling Lindsay

Songs for Our Sons Ruth Doyle Ashling Lindsay
Songs for Our Sons by Ruth Doyle, Ashling Lindsay
Also by this author: Dreams for Our Daughters
Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers on October 6, 2020
Genres: Children's
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What hopes do you have for the future? Who do you long to become? This warm, inspiring book encourages boys to shape a world so much gentler and brighter than before.  Playful rhymes and tender illustrations invite them to notice nature, embrace their emotions, and use wise words as their weapons. Whether they’re dynamic dazzlers or marvelous mud sculptors, this book is an opportunity to imagine all the incredible adventures up ahead. 
A perfect gift for baby showers, graduations, and other celebrations, Songs for Our Sons is a book boys will treasure throughout their lives.

I rarely cry over children’s books. I have cried repeatedly while reading Songs for Our Sons to my son. It’s something different every time. Let me tell you about them.

The first time was the line Honor your huge heart. I grew up in a household that suppressed emotion. Learning to emote was a choice I made in adulthood and, while I wouldn’t change who I am now, I’ve wanted to raise my own children differently. I can think of a time when my son was in the middle of a thirty-minute-long tantrum. Why? Because the car he wanted to play with would not fit on the track he wanted to play with. He saw the world a certain way and raged over its failures. (Don’t we do the same?) Boys are too often told to bottle up their feelings: It’s okay. Don’t cry. Don’t act like that. Songs for Our Sons validates the emotions of our boys—pain is a big deal / that crying can heal.

The second time was the line [be] a tender defender / and nonviolent fighter. This tracks with the above, but too often boys are taught to toughen up and to be violent. This violence is endemic in our culture and natural to fallen human nature. Nonviolence isn’t natural, it’s learned. Songs for Our Sons is a clarion call to a different type of masculinity than we typically see in either church or Hollywood.

The third time Songs from Our Sons made me cry was a little Black boy on the final panel with horn-rimmed glasses, a long red ribbon in his hands, and bright pink dress. Again, I go back to my three year old who is absolutely obsessed with dresses ever since seeing a friend wear one. Culture would make too much of this. Secular culture might call it a sexual statement (it assuredly isn’t). Religious culture might say the same (just disapprovingly). It’s a simple way of showing diversity and challenging toxic masculinity. My son looks at the page…“Dress?” and ran off to find his own pink skirt.

There will be more times, I’m sure, as my son and I explore further. More times to listen, to learn, to simply soak in the color and wonder of the illustrations, to take in the book’s message and bask in it’s counter-cultural spirit-song. Songs for our Sons is a treasure. An absolute treasure. Please, please buy this book.