Book inspires my 5 yr old daughter to ride big girl bike

Ever since her fifth birthday last July, I’ve been trying to get my daughter, Alice, to ride a big girl bike.

She wouldn’t do it. She wanted to stay with the training wheels. Alice is often reticent to try things, from sharing a new idea to exploring physical activities. If I can convince her to attempt something different (soccer, monkey bars) she usually ends up loving it and excelling as well, but the first push is often hard.

When I pushed with the bike, she just resisted. She was scared. She’d seen her sister fall and scrape her knees. I think healthy risk-taking builds real self-esteem, and I want my kids to learn how to take risks. And that you can fall and get up again and all that. But I didn’t want to push too hard, making her resist even more. Every time I asked her if she wanted the training wheels off, she’d yell “NO!”

Then last Saturday night, I read her one of a pile of new books I’d collected with female protagonists to read to my kids and review on Reel Girl: Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen. Sally Jean starts out as a baby in a seat on the back of her mama’s bike, progresses to a tricycle, training wheels, a two-wheeler, and by the end of the book can build her own bike. This kid is supercool.

So on Monday, the President’s Day holiday, as we were all heading to the park, Alice asked her dad to take her training wheels off. No prompting from us. We tried to remain calm. I resisted my urge to leap up and down, clapping. Instead, I went ahead to the park with her two older sisters so they wouldn’t rush her. Alice showed up about ten minutes later on a real two wheeler, her dad holding her seat to help her balance. For the next hour, he and I took turns practicing with her until our backs couldn’t take it anymore. She looked so happy and proud afterwards, I wanted to cry.

So coincidence or heroine-influenced?

This event seriously convinced me– as if I wasn’t convinced enough already– how important it is for kids to see girls being brave and taking risks in books, movies, and toys. If you can’t see it, you can’t do it or be it. Or maybe you can, but it’s much harder. You can talk to your kid until you’re blue in the face, but if you show her, she can learn so much quicker. She sees a “peer’ doing what she wants to do, not her mom babbling on about another thing.

Thank you Cari Best for writing Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen. You influenced my daughter’s life. Reel Girl rates Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen ***GGG*** Buy this book for your sons and daughters, especially if they need a push trying out a big kid bike.

Here’s happy Alice with her happy dad.

15 thoughts on “Book inspires my 5 yr old daughter to ride big girl bike

  1. Freedom From Training Wheels teaches kids to ride in as little as one hour.

    The trick is removing the pedals from the bike and lowering the seat so the child’s feet rest flat on the ground. Propelling with her feet, the child learns balance. Then the pedals go back on and she can – as if by magic – ride.

    More info here:

  2. Hurray for Alice! I agree: Cari Best is…the best! I love her “Catherine the Great” series, about her memories of her Russian grandmother, and “Last Licks” about an athletic girls’ love for her pink rubber ball. All great stories, about great, realistic little girls.

  3. I LOVE this book! And not just for the female lead, but for the class-consciousness mentioned above, the ability to make do with what you have and can find, to pass down what you no longer need to someone who will love it just as much, the neighborhood feel of things, and the eco-consciousness of Mr. Mettle, the junk man.

  4. Love Sally Jean. I also recommend it for boys so they can see smart, capable girls solving their own problems. I got it from the library and my son liked it so much, he wanted his own copy.

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  6. This book is great! Not only is Sally Jean confident, she’s also knowledgable and teachers others.

    I found your blog searching for info on The Secret World of Arrietty, and I’m really glad to have found it. I’ve been searching for this kind of info – Packaging Girlhood is such a great resource, but it obviously can’t stay up to date on new movies. Thanks for your work!

  7. My daughter mastered 2 wheels thanks to a bit-older boy across the street. Dad’s presence (mine) inhibited her (despite love, best intentions, etc) but with the neighborhood boy, ah, Molly was so proud and happy. It inspired me to write a children’s picture book about her trials and triumph. I have the story written but realize that it would take me ten years or so to develop my artistic skills enough to do the illustrations. “Two-Wheeler Molly” is the working title. Would be most open to working with an illustrator. … oh, my daughter is now 18. “Goes by so fast” doesn’t quite describe how really fast it does go! And how precious those early years are.Thanks for sharing your daughter’s story and the title.

  8. that’s a wonderful story, thanks Margot and GO! ALICE! I was too timid to move on from trainer wheels and I wish this had happened to me. Maybe my over cautious nature would have been helped by stories like these?

    My almost 5 year old has a running bike and is dying for a pedal bike. I’m leaning towards no trainer wheels at all, since she’s got good balance from the running bike. She isn’t like I was at all!

  9. Yay! I’m glad this book helped out you and your daughter. I love this book and hope my daughter does too.
    Another book similar to this is Imogene’s Last Stand. It’s a great little book about a young girl with a passion for history. It’s a cute read and it too has a strong, smart, and brave protagonist.

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