Craig Pomranz is a professional performer living in New York City. When he’s not touring the world singing selections from the Great American Songbook, he can be found in the recording studio. But it’s not his accomplishments as an entertainer that captured our interest in Craig.
As we recently found out, Craig has other talents, too. In 2014 he published “Made by RAFFI,” a children’s book that is now available for the first time in paperback. Many gay dads will relate to the story’s protagonist, a young boy who prefers quiet activities, including sewing, to the rough and tumble activities that are the typical behavior of boys.
After learning about the book, we approached Craig to get the story behind the story. While Craig is not a dad, he shares that the inspiration actually came from his godchild.
“In a conversation with one of my best friends about her son (my godchild), she told me that he seemed out of sorts. When she asked him why, he said he felt different from the other kids, that he didn’t fit in. He said the boys in particular loved sports and were noisier and more aggressive. He paused before asking his mom if there was such a thing as a tomgirl?’”
Craig was taken aback, as his godchild had coined a word that packed a huge message. In our society, it is generally considered okay for girls to be tomboys, as being assertive and active are both desirable qualities. But when a boy is shy or quiet and “girly,” it’s not considered okay. The not-so-subtle message is that anything feminine is less and anything masculine is more.
Craig Pomranz posing with some young fans.
Craig wrote “Made by RAFFI” to engage families and teachers in a conversation to change this narrative while at the same time hoping to entertain kids. He went on to explain that he believes there are two important lessons children will take-away from the book.
"First, I hope we can help children not become victims. Yes, kids who are teased can, and should, talk to the teacher. My book suggests that parents also teach their children self-possession and confidence. When Raffi asks his mom if something is wrong with him, she says, 'You are your own wonderful boy with your own special interests. Dad and I are very proud of you.' If we can succeed in delivering this message to our children, it can be empowering throughout their lives."
"The second lesson, which is just as important, is that it teaches empathy. Everyone feels different or out of place at some time, and we hope when it is our turn our peers will be kind. Some of the most moving and heartfelt letters I have received are from parents who admitted that their kid IS a bully and the parents were happy to find a lighthearted book that shows how their child that a kid who is different might be actually be a good friend to have!"
Finally, Craig let us know that he's working on several other projects with his publisher right now, most of which are empowering to children. His next book is about body image, another extremely important issue for us all. Craig says he looks forward to the challenge of addressing more controversial and difficult issues in a lighthearted and entertaining way.
To purchase a copy of his book, click the image below.