William's Doll

by Charlotte Zolotow

Paperback, 1972



Call number




Harper & Row (1985), Edition: Reprint, 32 pages


William's father gives him a basketball and a train but these do not make him want a doll less.

User reviews

LibraryThing member dchaves
My cynical side thinks, boys - ask for a doll to ensure lots of other cool presents. It reminds me of my last year as an undergraduate when I decided to work as a bartender - my parents offered me complete tuition payments to alleviate their fears. But the 'practice being a father' is so very
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Written in 1972, this book was daring for the time.

I'd like to think that society is much more accepting of little boys who don't want to play rough and tumble sports, who don't care for basketball (even if they are good at it) and who want to play with a doll.

William longs for a doll to play with.
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All the taunting and teasing by his brother and neighborhood boy, naturally called names like sissy and creepy, did not take away the desire William had to possess a doll.

His grandmother understood him and purchased a beautiful blue eyed doll with a white dress and eyes that made a clicking noise when the closed.

In a mere 32 pages, the author affirmed that society can be wrong...oh so wrong at times.

And, I loved the strong message of a grandmother who unconditionally accepted, encouraged and loved William.

As a side note, I am a grandmother of a grandson who, from the time he was a wee little guy, loved to play with dolls. Each year his Christmas present is the doll of his choice. Last year's choice was the American Girl doll Molly.

And, yes, just like William, he was teased by a neighbor boy on the bus who loudly laughed and said "Oh, there is the kid who plays with girly dolls!"

To their immense credit, my daughter and son-in-law talked the the parents of that taunting boy and asked if in some way they were imparting these ideas in their child.

It lead to an eye opening experience.
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LibraryThing member Katie20
William wanted a doll so he could hug it. William's brother made fun of him, and told him he was a sissy. His father suggested a basketball, and he played with his new basketball. William still wanted a doll. Then, his father bought him an electric train. He still wanted a doll. William's
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grandmother came to visit him one day. William showed her basketball, trains, and they then went on a walk. They went to buy a doll. It was perfect. The father was upset, but then she told him how when he is a dad he will love it and show it the love the baby deserves. This is a great book for parents because it shows that dolls are not sissy it shows great fatherhood.
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LibraryThing member amandapfloyd
William wants a doll to play with. His brother and the boy next door make fun of him. His father buys him a basketball and goal. William plays with the ball and becomes good but still wants a doll. So his father buys him a train and they build a little town. William plays with his train a lot but
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still wants a doll. His grandmother comes to visit and he shows her his basketball and train set. They go for a walk and William tells her he really wants a doll. So Grandmother buys him a doll. His father is angry but Grandmother explains a doll will teach William how to be a good father.
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LibraryThing member fvalle89
This book was very heartwarming and could be used in a classroom meeting to address issues if boys are being made fun of. About why a boy wants a doll and no one else understands why but we find out.
LibraryThing member kaylada3
This is an incredible book about a boy who wants a doll, but is discouraged by the men in his life. HIs Grandma sheds light on the issue by pointing out that it would be a great tool for him to use in planning for his future with a family. The point to this story is to avoid gender stereotypes. I
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will be adding it to my shelf for just this reason. I want students to feel comfortable with themselves and the things that interest them.
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LibraryThing member mrcmyoung
William's father encourages his son to play with basketballs and toy trains, but all William really wants is a doll to take care of. This should be required reading for all children and their parents. People don't always fit the molds we've created for them, and asking them to deny their true
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selves is asking them to sacrifice their happiness.

Lovely illustrations, though I'm surprised William's father allowed him to wear the apricot ascot.
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LibraryThing member gjchauvin504
I truly loved this book because I thought it was unlike any book that i have ever read. This is because I never read a book that a boy wanted a doll so badly because I thought dolls were only for girls. Because of this I will defiantly read this book to my students because I think that this will
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teach students about how people are different.
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LibraryThing member JillSmith23
This book is a very touching book that covers the topic of gender roles. It shows how having a doll is okay for boys, and that children can play with whatever toys they want. This book is appropriate for children in the early childhood level.
LibraryThing member hartung_r
William wanted a doll to hold and to love, but his father gave him a basketball instead. He became very good at the sport, but he still wanted a doll. His father gave him an electric train which William loved, but he still wanted a doll. His grandma got him a doll when she came to visit. William's
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father was very upset. Grandma told him that William wanted the doll to practice being a father like him. I would love to use this book in my classroom as it shows kids that both boys and girls can play with dolls. This book is appropriate for ages 4-8.
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LibraryThing member bestwhensimple
This wonderful book by acclaimed children's book author Charlotte Zolotow is the story of a boy named William who wants a doll. The story describes the various responses that William gets when he tells people about his desire. These responses vary from outright mocking (calling him a "sissy") to
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diversionary tactics (buying him a basketball and a train set instead of a doll). The story ends on a very happy note, as William's grandmother realizes the importance of having a doll for future parents of all genders.

This book is delicately illustrated by William Pène de Bois' watercolor and pencil drawings. I especially appreciated the beginning illustrations which depict William's miming of parental actions, such as putting a baby to bed, and how these mimed actions are responded to with laughter by William's brother and neighbor. Here, we can see how insensitive these boys can be when a boy goes against gender norms. The illustrations in this story tell as much as the words do. The last illustration we see is of William, gingerly holding the doll that his grandmother bought for him. It's a wonderful image.

For its questioning of gendered playtime activities, this book is a fantastic read for young readers. The illustrations are great to look at, too.
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LibraryThing member jcpenny0
This book is about a young boy who wants a doll but every time he asks for one he receives something else from his father. Finally William's grandmother buys him a doll and he became very happy. This book is wonderful, which I specifically liked. Children of young ages should be encouraged to read
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this as it discusses the topic of gender stereotypes.
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LibraryThing member alyssahagen
This book has a great message that conveys that there is nothing wrong with boys who play with dolls. His grandmother understands why he wants a doll and thinks he should have one so that when he grows up he will have a chance at practicing being a good father. This is for any age or grade in
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elementary because it teaches such a good message. I like this book because the theme is a unique one that really teaches something out of the norm.
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LibraryThing member kjacob9
I loved reading the book “William’s Doll” because of the illustration as well as the message of the story. I really like the way William was drawn “playing” with an invisible doll. This would be a very realistic reaction for a child to imagine being able to play with a doll. It also helps
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to show the reader William’s strong desire to own a doll of his own. Also, I loved this book for its message. I like the way the author used the grandmother to reveal to the father the importance of letting William have a doll. I think this book clearly questions gender roles and shows that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a boy who likes to play with dolls. The main idea of this book is that there is no problem with questioning gender roles and it can often lead to positive outcomes.
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LibraryThing member tricha11
Overall, I thought this was a good story. The topic really makes children and adults think about an issue that many children face in this society. There are certain stereotypes that force children into certain facets of life even though they don’t want to. For example, William’s father forcing
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him to play basketball instead of with a doll. Another reason I liked this story was because of the character development. Even though the story was presented in a short but impactful way. We really get a sense of what William is going through in his want for a doll. For instance, we get to see the dismay of William while playing with trains, but the joy in the end when his grandmother buys him the doll. The third reason, I enjoyed this story was because of the illustrations. They were simple, but elegant and really matched the tone of the story. For instance, the story had a somewhat serious topic and the pictures captured what was going on in the story without being over-powering and detracting from the words. The image that really sticks out to me is when William is watching the neighbor who is a girl play with her doll. In the end, I felt the main message of this story was to get people to think about stereotypes in this world and that not everyone is going to follow suit with what everyone likes to consider “normal.”
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LibraryThing member jgiann2
In my opinion, this is a good book that exemplifies gender roles in society and how boys and girls are stereotyped into only playing with toys associated with their gender. I had mixed feelings about this book after reading it. I liked the book because of the plot and central message it gives to
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readers. The plot of this story is a boy desperately wants a baby doll to take care of and learn how to be a loving father. However, he is ridiculed for wanting this toy because only girls would typically play with dolls, according to gender stereotypes. This pushers readers to think about the role of gender and that even though someone is a boy, they should still be allowed to play with whatever toy they desire. Fortunately, the child’s grandmother purchases a doll for her grandson and explains to the father that, “when he’s a father like you, he’ll know how to take care of his baby and feed him and love him and bring him things he wants, like a doll so that he can practice being a father.” I found this quote very important because it signifies that boys will one day grow up to be fathers and must know how to treat a baby with love and care. However, there are also reasons why I did not like this book. I felt the illustrations were slightly dull, which made the story less engaging to the reader. The characters were not well developed. The language was clear and organized, yet did not contain much description. The big idea of this story is that just because it is normal to see a boy playing with masculine toys, it does not mean he is a “sissy” for wanting to own a doll. People should accept that gender stereotypes can be broken and children should explore the world without strict gender roles placed on them. The young boy had a reason for wanting this doll; he wants to grow up to be a loving father, which is very acceptable.
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LibraryThing member marainajudd
A boy wants to play with a doll and is teased for it
Ages: 3-5
Source: Pierce College Library
LibraryThing member sandratt
This book is about a boy who wants to play with a doll and people make fun of him for that.
Ages 4-5
From ECE Library
LibraryThing member Jennifer LeGault
More than anything, William wants a doll. Then one day someone really understands William's wish, and makes it easy for others to understand, too.
LibraryThing member JackieOttman
William wants a doll, and is teased about it from his brother. He gets the doll and emphasis put on being a good father.
LibraryThing member litschke
william wants a doll and everyone else thinks its wierd so they try to give him all boy toys to play with
LibraryThing member jobend2
I liked this book for a few reasons. First, I really liked the characters. I like how it portrayed a boy that wanted a doll. Typically, girls play with dolls, so it was interesting to read about a boy wanting a doll. I also really liked the boys grandma, because when his father would not get him a
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doll, his grandma got it for him. I like how she explained to the father that having a doll does not make him like a girl, it is preparing him for when he is a father. Going along with that, I enjoyed the plot. In the beginning how the father would buy his son a basketball, a train set, and other boy toys, yet the boy still wanted a doll. I liked how finally someone decided to get him a doll, and in the end the father was not so mad that his son had a doll after all. I think the message of this book was that just because a boy wants a girly toy, does not mean they want to be a girl or that they are gay. Sometimes, they just want to experience different toys and in this case, the doll served as a preparation tool for the boy for when he becomes a father.
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LibraryThing member jfe16
When William asks for a doll, his brother says, “Don’t be a creep.” His next-door neighbor chants, “Sissy, sissy, sissy.” His father offers him a basketball, attaches a net to the garage, and shows him how to jump and throw the ball into the net. William practices and practices, and gets
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good at throwing the ball into the net.

But he still wants a doll.

His father buys him an electric train and William plays with it a lot. He uses twigs for trees and builds bridges, tunnels, and stations from cardboard boxes.

But he still wants a doll.

And then, one day, William’s grandmother comes to visit.

Young readers will enjoy reading this book with their parents and discussing William’s wish for a doll. Sharing this story with children will provide parents with a perfect opportunity to discuss stereotypes associated with gender and to share their thoughts about William’s reason for wanting a doll.

Charmingly illustrated, the targeted audience for the book is ages four through eight; however, its Lexile Level of 840L places it at a skilled fourth grade or fifth grade level for independent reading. Nevertheless, whether read independently or read by a parent to a younger child, this is an important book to share with children.

Highly recommended.
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Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — 1977)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

9 inches


0064430677 / 9780064430678
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