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Literature

Personality Traits and Gender Stereotypes in Fairy Tales

February 20, 2022

Georgia Kiziridou is a developmental is school psychologist, certified adult instructor, and a writer. She has been working as a school psychologist since 2006 in the private and public sectors. As an adult instructor she has training experience up to 5000 hours in typical, non-typical and atypical adult education. Her main academic interests focus on professional and personal development, emotional intelligence, parental styles, and applied positive psychology. She is the writer of the fairytale The Boy Who Wants Only to Dance and the theatrical version as well. She has published a ‘print on demand’ collection of stories with the title Stigmatized. Also, she has translated the fairytale The Royal Heart, which is the first fairytale in the Greek language with a transgender hero. Last but not least, she has participated in collected poetry and story books and has won many literature competitions at the national level.

The National Herald: How did you start writing children’s books?

Georgia Kiziridou: As a school psychologist I had the inner drive to communicate with people, either adults or children, and teenagers. More specifically, I wanted to express my feelings and my thoughts, as well as to share my experiences from counseling and therapeutic sessions.

TNH: Which book is the one that influenced you in starting writing?

GK: As far as I remember, I read books, but the real motivation for starting writing has to do with experiences that come from my personal and professional life!

TNH: How long does it take you to write a book?

GK: It depends on the period of my life and my motivation. I prefer not to push myself to finish a book, because I really love the whole process of the writing inspiration that is created step by step.

TNH: Which is the source of your inspiration when writing a book?

GK: The main source is life and personal experiences. My personal goal is to transform the negative experiences that I have lived by myself or heard about from others into a brand new creation with positive vibes for the people who choose to read my books.

TNH: How do you ensure a picture book lends itself well to being read aloud?

GK: I try to think and act as a child, not as an adult. So, by developing empathy for my little readers, I respect their cognitive and emotional developmental stage. I spend a lot of time making changes to the colors of the pictures and the balance between the picture and the written story. Also, before the publication, I ask a group of children as a focus – pilot group if there is anything that they wanted to be changed, or if they don’t understand the way of my expression and the point of my view. I do respect the feedback of the children because it is pure and honest. Last but not least, I ask the opinion of teachers and parents. In that way, I reinforce the communication between me as an author and the readers!

TNH: Do your heroes lead your way through the story or do you decide about their fate? 

GK: From a fresh start, I organize a general point of view for my heroes, for example, the basic characteristics, attitude, and personality traits of them but I feel free to transform them step by step, trying to follow the flow of the story. I like the changes that emerge after the initial plan and the challenge to think out of the box! That’s life, and that’s literature as well!

TNH: How do you connect with your little readers and the writing community in general?

GK: I am a fan of personal contact and communication. Due to quarantines and the pandemic I tried to keep in contact through social media, interviews, and ‘internet live’ instead of real live presentations.

TNH: Children’s books get the message across regarding social issues. Which is your goal in writing your stories? 

GK: I mostly focus on the acceptance of different identities, especially those that have to do with gender stereotypes. Also, I pay attention to the holistic treatment of school bullying through the supporting relationships from the school, the family systems, and the valuable friendships and cooperation with peers.

TNH: Which are the Greek children’s books you wish you had written?

GK: I will be very honest… No book at all! I strongly believe in personal identity as a writer! So, I am proud of my books and I will continue my writing efforts in the near future.

TNH: Which are the first books you have published? 

GK: My first ‘intellectual child’ is the fairytale The Boy Who Wants Only to Dance, which is a story based on real events and narrations and the main subject has to do with school bullying that is connected with gender stereotypes. There is also a theatrical version in Greek. Shortly there are plans for translating the fairytale and the play into English and Italian.

TNH: What’s coming up next for you?

GK: I am full of proposals and ideas… The latest idea is a children’s recipe book in combination with folk stories from our grandparents with roots in Smyrna. It will be a way of expressing gratitude and honor for our roots from the past and a history lesson that builds bridges to the present and the future as well. Also, now I am at the process of writing a book for parenting styles, which will be a practical guide for all parents.

TNH: Do you have any advice for aspiring picture-book authors?

GK: Not advice, just a motivational sentence… Be brave enough!

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Dear readers, let me briefly introduce myself, while wishing you "a summer full of positive energy and good health.

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