Written by Debbie Levy
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
My daughter and I started homeschooling this last fall. Too many things about school were not working for her: the way her teacher didn't listen, the loudness in the room, the bouncing from subject to subject...all of this mixed with my daughter's rising anxiety.
Before jumping into new curriculum, we decided to take a few months off to let her brain shake off school and find its own curiosity. Among the many books that Vera read as we were on that journey, she read Cinderella Liberator. And it couldn't have come at a better time.
Cinderella Liberator is an empowering fairy tale book for all ages. It's about a girl who is forced to do chores by her step mother and figures out how to do her own thing. The main elements are the same but the meaning is different. For example the prince goes to Cinderella's house and the shoe fits. They don't get married, but they become friends.
Because we are in the middle of a global pandemic, it is harder to access copies of books for free. However, here are ways to access Cinderella Liberator:
Check out or put a hold on the FREE eBook version at the Multnomah County Library
Get an audio version of the book from Audible for $5.00
Purchase from Powell's City of Books for $18.00
Extend the Learning Through Social Justice Standards
This Shelter in Place learning is framed by the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards, which function as lenses through which we can create anti-bias learning experiences.
The four anchors of these standards are Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action, and there are differing grade level objectives for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. For this book, we are focusing in on 3-5 grade standards for Identity and Diversity.
Relevant Identity & Diversity Standards for Grades 3-5
Identity Standard 3: I know that all my group identities are part of who I am, but none of them fully describes me and this is true for other people too.
Diversity Standard 8: I want to know more about other people’s lives and experiences, and I know how to ask questions respectfully and listen carefully and non-judgmentally.
Action Standard 16: I pay attention to how people (including myself ) are treated, and I try to treat others how I like to be treated.
Discussion Questions Correlating to the Social Justice Standards
Compare & Contrast
What are three major differences between this story and the original Cinderella story that you have heard or read in the past?
What was the central message of the original Cinderella story? What is the central message of this Cinderella story?
Assumptions About Identity
What were Prince Nevermind's family's expectations of him? What did Prince Nevermind really want in life?
What were Cinderella's stepmother's expectations of Cinderella? What did Cinderella really want out of life?
How We Treat Others
How does Cinderella treat the animals she encounters in her home?
What choice are the animals given when it is time for the fairy godmother to undo the magic spell? What do you think about this? Why do the animals make the choices that they do?
What is true magic according to the fairy godmother?
In this book, what does it mean to be liberated? What does this mean to you? What might it mean to others?
When Rebecca Solnit came to speak at Powell's in 2016 to give a talk on 2016 version of Hope updated version of her non-fiction book Hope in the Dark, she created a playlist for her followers that was designed to represent the power, collective action, punk, and beauty of activism and radical vision/action in the world.
Extend the Learning Through Cultural Resources
Here is a small selection of resources that you can easily use to extend the learning that reading Cinderella Liberator can inspire. These can be used with children from young to older, depending on who you are engaging in the learning process in your household or classroom.
Five Ways I Teach My Children Intersectional Feminism: A short basic introduction to intersectional feminism and how to frame our teaching centering intersectionality and not white feminism.
Understanding Gender (research and stories from gender spectrum on gender diversity) For Teens and Adults
We Should All Be Feminists (a talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie): A 30 minute TedX talk from Nigerian author Adichie who calls us to all be feminists. There is some allusion to sexual and other violence against women. It is suggested that you watch this with younger kiddos or teens so that you can discuss.
Reframing Gender Helps Kids See Beyond Other Binaries (material from Teaching Tolerance to support a conversation on nonbinary thinking both around gender and beyond)
How to Read Against the Grain (this is a really useful teaching plan that shows how to help students read more critically with a step-by-step method; try this with Cinderella or other stories)
Original Cinderella (use this to compare and contrast with Cinderella Liberator)
Founding the Feminist Organization KidsforShe at 14 (a story from a young feminist)
Gratitudes to the author and illustrator of this book and all who contributed to the resources we collected here. Thank you to our readers who are with us on this journey. Take care...