Free To Be... You And Me

By Marlo Thomas, Gloria Steinem, Mary Rodgers

776 ratings - 4.41* vote

Running Press is proud to offer this beloved 1974 children's classic. It's the original, innovative book that celebrates diversity, challenges stereotypes, and encourages kids to be themselves in a joyful, positive manner, through a collection of songs, poems, and stories to be read aloud and shared with new generations. Also available in a Miniature Edition™ Running Press is proud to offer this beloved 1974 children's classic. It's the original, innovative book that celebrates

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Book details

Paperback, 143 pages
by McGraw-Hill Companies

(first published June 1974)

Original Title
Free to Be You and Me
0070642249 (ISBN13: 9780070642249)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


The book we all know and love..that is an understatement!

This book was such an influence on my perceptions and how I viewed the world. If someone came to me and asked w hat one book would you want a child to read..this would have to be at the top of the list.

So glad to see it is not lost or forgot!

I cannot even begin..OK..I cannot do a review. All I can say is this was loved by myself, my family, everyone.

I still laugh about the two babies.

It was always around and I would read it over and over.


Andrea Fleury

I loved this book as a young girl and I loved it now.

Orla Hegarty

My feminist Mum made sure I read this in the 70s :) Good to see it's still here.


Quite simply, *the* classic 1970's children's book. Mention this book at a party with your contemporaries and separate the cool kids from the dreck. ;-)

Sarah Sammis

I'm as old as Free to Be... You and Me by Marlo Thomas (and friends). The book, record and TV special were some of the inescapable things in my childhood (no matter how hard I tried!) and now the book is back and it landed (uninvited) on my doorstep for review.

As Ms. Thomas explains in the beginning of the book she was inspired to create Free to Be... You and Me when her niece complained about all the books having princesses who need to be rescued. My response would have been: you're reading the wrong the books! What about Alice, Ozma, Dorothy, Anne, Trixie, Nancy, Madeline, Wendy and Mary to name just a few of the many literary heroines from my youth who didn't need princes or rescuing.

Free to Be... You and Me isn't though just trying to be a book to empower young women, it also tries to give boys permission to like things considered "girlie" (dolls and pink and showing emotions). As I pointed out in The Boy Who Wanted to be a Fish by Le Grand, pink for girls is a relatively new thing. A better way of conveying a message (whatever it is) is to show not tell. For boys who like pink, I recommend Pinkalicious and Purplicious for the younger brother in the book who is almost as nuts about pink as his big sister.

The big message of this book is basically this: don't be afraid to do your own thing. Unfortunately the book comes with the conceit that children don't have the will power to think for themselves or push boundaries. That's not been the case with most of the children I've met through my own two.

This reissue comes with sheet music and a CD. The original cartoons are on YouTube if you're inclined to watch them.

Jennifer Wardrip

Reviewed by Jaglvr for Kids @

I was a young child when FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME was first released. My elementary school even used songs from FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME for a spring concert. As I reviewed this book now, as an adult, I was still amazed that I could hum the tunes to the songs written as poems in the book.

FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME is one of those rare gems that have managed to stand the test of time. Updated with vibrant new illustrations, FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME takes controversial messages (imagine how controversial they would have been in the early 1970s!) and brushes off the impossibilities of what can be.

FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME emphasizes to children the endless possibilities that are available to them. The book encourages children of all ages to do what they want, and not be limited by what society expect of them.

Take the story of "Atalanta." The princess's father automatically expects her to marry the man he chooses for her. Atalanta wants nothing to do with that. She wants to be the creator of her own destiny. She compromises with her father that if she can run the race with the possible suitors, if she loses the race, she will do as he wishes. But ultimately, Atalanta holds her own fate in her hands by risking running the race against the suitors.

Or, there's "William's Doll." What father doesn't cringe at the thought of his son wanting to play with a doll? But this story shows that by allowing William to have the doll that he desires, he has gained the knowledge to be an awesome big brother.

These are just two of the wonderful parts of FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME. With poems, comics, songs, and amazing illustrations, parents will fall in love with the book again, and children will immediately make FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME one of those treasures to be read time and again.

And if you are a parent that doesn't remember this from your childhood, pick up a copy and read "Boy Meets Girl." There's no way you can forget the amusing tale of the babies that meet minutes after being born in the nursery!


Although this is a collection of poems and short stories, I have included it in my "poetry" selections. I loved listening to record and casette tape recordings of the original version of this book as a child. This is actually the 35th anniversary edition, which I rediscovered recently at the library. As I pour over this new version, I can hear all of the songs, stories and poems in my head read by the likes of Alan Alda, Marlo Thomas, Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, and other big names. This book is a celebration of the individuality of children, who they may be and who they could be. It is sometimes silly and sometimes serious, but often thought-provoking and clever. This book can be enjoyed either by just reading it or reading along with the accompanying CD. It can be enjoyed alone, with a friend, curled up with a family member. Many of the poems, stories, and songs can be used individually with a classroom unit or as part of a music program. I hope that others get as much pleasure as I did (and do) experiencing this wonderful book!

Becky Bass

This book explores several different cultures and gender roles. The book’s main idea is gender neutrality, and every gender role can face the same obstacle with a different result. Be free to be whoever and do whatever you want. The book was first written in the 1970’s and includes several poems. It teaches children to celebrate loving their own skin and the individuality that each of them have. It has several songs attached to the book that would be good when reading or using the book in a classroom setting. The author doesn’t explain the different experienced the children faced in attachment to their race, but he also includes the race of each set of children. This brings a neutrality to the table showing that regardless of who you are, there can be equality in every situation.


I'd heard a lot about this book over the years and when I started watching "That Girl" a lot last summer, I became even more curious. That curiosity has finally been fulfilled.
It's a really sweet book with poems, cartoons and songs and if I had children of my own or was a child myself I might appreciate it more. As it is, I'm in my 50's and I have no childhood connection to this book. I don't remember ever having read it before.
So, that being said, I think children and those who have read it before or are parents should read it again because it has a lot of great messages from different authors and artists. It just wasn't as special to me as it probably is for a lot of people, but I can see why it's a classic. I did enjoy the introduction by Marlo Thomas at the front of the book.

Allison D

This book contains multiple short stories that approach a lot of different stereotypes cultures and genders face. One example is of saying it is okay to cry and there were all genders crying. It is all about gender neutrality and approach many different gender roles in society and says that you can be free to be whoever and whatever you want.
This applies to feminism because it is all about gender roles and trying to bring neutrality to them. It shows that there is nothing that should be specific to women or specific to just men. That is the overall goal of feminism. The goal of feminism it the equality of all genders.
The illustrations in this book are a lot different than most. Their are pictures of real children and pictures of drawn charters. I think that any child could find interest in this book because of how many different topics it covers and is not gender specific. The genre of this book is nonfiction because it is not a story just excerpts of how you do not need to act a certain way.