Big Boys Cry
by Jonty Howley

We live in a society which tells boys that they need to be strong, that they need to be leaders, play sports and show no fear. However, these behaviours don’t come naturally to most, so what does it mean for the majority when they don’t think they measure up and then aren’t able to share how they feel?

Toxic masculinity is a very real phenomenon and boys need to be reassured that they can show their emotions – especially right now.

Big Boys Cry is about a little boy who is nervous about starting school, unaware that his father is much more worried than he is. It’s a moving look at how our words can affect our children, and why we need to choose them carefully.

When little Levi leaves home for his first day of school he starts to cry. His dad doesn’t know what to say or do so he just buttons up his coat and sends him out the door with the words “Big boys don’t cry”.

Levi wipes away his tears and tries to be brave but, on the way to school he sees something which amazes him. He spots a fisherman crying whilst saying goodbye to his family and he sees a harpist and a poet, both awash with emotion as they perform to onlookers. The more he walks the more he opens his eyes to the world and sees that all around him there are boys and men from all walks of life showing their feelings as they go about their day.

He allows himself to cry as he approaches the school gates and when he returns home, he tells his father what he has learned – but how will his father react?

This is a heartfelt and beautifully illustrated story. I love the message it holds and it’s made even more powerful by the fact we see tears and a sincere apology from the father at the end of the story.

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