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Still free to be you and me October 6, 2008

If you were to take a poll of nostalgia-joggers from childhood, an oft-cited one among the 40-and-under crowd is likely to be Free To Be…You And Me with That Girl (for that you have to be older) Marlo Thomas.

This mega book-and-album hit from the 70’s has never left print, but it’s miraculously aged too, just like, well, you and me. Now 35, Free to Be … You and Me celebrates this month with a special 35th Anniversary, new and expanded edition. (Please note most online stores like don’t yet have the new edition in stock as of today. Take a look at USA Today’s review to take a peek at the new cover, and read an interview with Thomas.)

The newly updated collection of stories, poems and songs — with accompanying new CD — sports new writers and illustrators such as Peter H. Reynolds, who designed the whimsical, dreamy new cover. The old favorites remain.

When it first came out, Free to Be… You and Me was actually controversial, with its stereotype-breaking messages and affirmations for children that one didn’t have to feel “stuck” in one’s gender. Boys could play with dolls, and the feminist ideal that was important for the times rang out loud and clear to little girls.

Times have progressed, but we all still desperately need the message that it’s not only OK, but important, to be different.

posted by Janie McQueen, author of The New Magic Bookshelf: Finding Great Books Your Child Will Treasure Forever



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