Every boy has a great story.

Our Books

Boys Camp - Zack 9781629148052 Boys Camp 2 - Nates Story 9781629148069 - NEW Boys Camp - Zee (1)

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What’s up with today’s ideas about boys?

We believe in the power of children’s books to plant critical ideas, share values, and foster curiosity and introspection. (And to be glorious and fun, of course.) This power is maximized by offering children characters they can personally identify with. Sadly, in our society this often means boy characters for boys. (Although girls have “permission” to identify with boys, like Harry Potter, boys generally don’t.) Hence our dismay when we couldn’t find realistic fiction for our young sons that was as good as what we had found for our daughters (like American Girl’s Josefina and Kit). As we kept searching, we realized the problem went deeper than we thought.

Thankfully, girl advocates have made tremendous progress over the last few decades. They have broadened girl’s choices. And sadly, its boys who seem to be caught in a confining 1950s era vision of what it means to be male. Yet in the 1950s, stereotypes held that boys were smart, and girls were stupid. Now, that stereotype has completely flipped. Obviously neither version is true, yet popular culture is full of messages that “boys will be boys.” That means they can’t: read, learn, listen, sit still, not hit, be sweet…you know the litany.

But now more than ever, in a world more dependent on brains than brawn, intelligence (including emotional intelligence) is mandatory for success. And intelligence is cultivated from the first days of life on.

The Backstory

“If I had a nickel for every time someone asked if we had something like popular books for girls, but for boys…I’d be a millionaire,” answered the bookstore clerk. When we two moms (lifelong friends) kept hearing that response in our quest for quality books and toys for our sons, we knew we weren’t alone in our frustration. We are Peggy (mother of a girl and a boy) and Ann (mother of two girls and a boy). We still struggle to find materials to help us in that daunting parental job of instilling the values and skills our sons will need for the journey to healthy adolescence and adulthood—including social skills, emotional intelligence, and personal responsibility.

Where did we get such high expectations in the first place? From the books we had read to our older daughters. We’ve found no shortage of quality materials designed to appeal both to them as girls, and to us as parents. Their childhoods have been filled with characters that they can personally identify with—characters who explore how to be: true to oneself, an engaged friend, daughter or sister, and an independent person. These characters struggle with what it means to “do the right thing” as they find themselves in complex situations that the reader might find herself in. The reader witnesses outcomes—sometimes suprising. Along the way, these characters build the skills and confidence needed for resiliency, creativity, empathy and strength.

But for boys, we mostly just found two-dimensional and often violent action heroes, and potty humor. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…but it’s not enough. For parents who also want books and toys that can be building blocks for character development—and antidotes to the stream of violent and caustic media that increasingly fill our kids’ days—we hunger for stories that are both fun and positive.

Our effort grew in dynamism when Peggy’s niece, Sarah Smith, contributed her ideas and enthusiasm. The momentum grew when Valerie Tripp, author of 35 American Girl books, agreed to bring her unparalleled expertise in writing popular and life-changing children’s literature to the project.

Hence, Boys Camp!

Author Jean Craighead George wrote that what children want most is to know that they can be successful, independently. The founder of a successful school in Delaware told us that children need heroes. Child development specialists cite the value of mixed-age and mixed-gender friendships. We know most children are interested in nature and animals. Today’s diversity calls for building connections between people from different backgrounds. Boys Camp is an imaginary—but possible—place, where all these ideas come together. We hope parents will be thrilled, and boys (and girls) will be asking for the next story.