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Good Message For the Kids: Teach Girls to Survive Zits, Teach Boys to Survive Frostbite

Natural Disasters

So, we’re not going to get too outraged over this because it’s ridiculous. But let this be a guide to what not to buy the grade-schooler in your life. Ryan North at What Are the Haps came across these books in a bookstore — in the year 2012 — and provided a list of the chapters contained within both the “Girls Only” edition as well as the “Boys Only” one. If you’re thinking that both books provide children of both genders useful survival skills in the face of actual emergencies … you are about half correct. Unless you consider “becoming rich” an emergency. (Spoiler: “How to Survive Becoming Rich” is in the girls’ book. Good to know the author has faith that girls can become rich, but only in a way that causes them severe psychological problems.)

Indeed, both books — Girls Only: How to Survive Anything and Boys Only: How to Survive Anything, both by Martin Oliver — are in print right now and probably floating around the kids’ section of your local bookstore. They are also both available online. Now that you know they are out there, here is a survival tip from my own little heart: do not buy these books. True, they are marketed as “comedy and humor” books, meaning they are tongue-in-cheek and not meant to be taken totally seriously, but let’s take a look at the chapter list compiled by North. Gentlemen first:

How to Survive a Shark Attack
How to Survive in a Forest
How to Survive Frostbite
How to Survive a Plane Crash
How to Survive in the Desert
How to Survive a Polar Bear Attack
How to Survive a Flash Flood
How to Survive a Broken Leg
How to Survive an Earthquake
How to Survive a Forest Fire
How to Survive in a Whiteout
How to Survive a Zombie Invasion
How to Survive a Snakebite
How to Survive if Your Parachute Fails
How to Survive a Croc Attack
How to Survive a Lightning Strike
How to Survive a T-Rex
How to Survive Whitewater Rapids
How to Survive a Sinking Ship
How to Survive a Vampire Attack
How to Survive an Avalanche
How to Survive a Tornado
How to Survive Quicksand
How to Survive a Fall
How to Survive a Swarm of Bees
How to Survive in Space

And the ladies, with commentary in italics by North’s friend Jackie (who opened the book so we didn’t have to):

How to survive a BFF Fight
How to Survive Soccer Tryouts
How to Survive a Breakout
How to Show You’re Sorry
(and chapter 3 is where we no longer care about “survival”)
How to Have the Best Sleepover Ever
How to Take the Perfect School Photo
How to Survive Brothers
Scary Survival Dos and Don’ts
(“don’t throw things or yell at your ghost. it may react badly.”)
How to Handle Becoming Rich
How to Keep Stuff Secret
How to Survive Tests
How to Survive Shyness
How to Handle Sudden Stardom
More Stardom Survival Tips
How to Survive a Camping Trip
(“fresh air is excellent for the skin”)
How to Survive a Fashion Disaster
How to Teach Your Cat to Sit
(are you #$&^%*@ kidding me?)
How to Turn a No Into a Yes
Top Tips for Speechmaking
How to Survive Embarrassment
How to Be a Mind Reader
How to Survive a Crush
Seaside Survival
(don’t wear heels. tie your hair back. sunglasses add glamour.)
How to Soothe Sunburn
How to Pick Perfect Sunglasses
Surviving a Zombie Attack
How to Spot a Frenemy
Brilliant Boredom Busters
How to Survive Truth or Dare
How to Beat Bullies
How to be an Amazing Babysitter

So, yeah. I’m glad that Oliver realized that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, both male and female humans would be affected, and the girlfolk would probably like some information in case she’s asked to leave her mirror and journal behind while the undead start breaking into her home. (Keeping a journal, ladies, by the way, is a great way to relieve stress. Gentlemen, journals are for ladies, so you should punch the ground instead. Not cement or wood, though, unless you also read the chapter on how to survive broken bones in your fists.)

Again, these were being presented as satire, humor books. For children. Because if there’s anything a fifth-grader can read the best, it’s irony. And true, there are some things in the girls’ book that are not all about vanity and tell girls that their lives can include sports, leadership, and confidence.

But the boys’ books is about dinosaurs, vampires, sharks, adventures! If Oliver was going to write a Bear Grylls book for the boys, he should have written a Felicity Aston book for the girls! Not a Bethenny Frankel book, which would have been totally cool if the boys’ book was a James Franco book!

So, if Frankel and Franco can go ahead and write a satirical social survival books for kids, that would be pretty amazing, and I would buy it. For myself, an adult.

The problem with these books is this: we didn’t have to call them “Boys Only” and “Girls Only.” Because both boys and girls can use survival skills, both in the wild (fictional and non-fictional) and the real world, on both large and small scales. Boys also get pimples, find themselves in awkward social situations, and even babysit. And someday, in this crazy little world, boys and girls, men and women, of all races and creeds, will finally figure out how to get a cat to sit.

(What Are the Haps via tipster Katy — thanks, Katy!)

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