Friday, 25 August 2017

Children's Books That Break the Gender Stereotype.

In this house books and story time is very important to us. I always make sure Lily has accsess to a wide range of books and can get to them herself at any time. It was only recently that it was brought to my attention that books may be a little bias when it comes to what sex they use for the stories. I did a gender test on my books and realised that although Lily is a girl, most of the books have male lead characters. You can read all about my discovery of what books we have here in the book gender test post

After noticing that most the books had boys doing stereotypical boys things and girls doing stereotypical girls things, I teamed up with some fellow book loving bloggers. We have created this post all about books that are brilliant in showing that its not always boys that do boys things and girls that do girls things. 

Each blogger selected 3 books. One book perfect for girls, one book perfect for boys and one book perfect for boys or girls. 

To start, here is my choice. 

For Boys - Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle 
Generally its the females that are the ones having the babies, and are often the ones seen taking care of the babies. In this book Its Mister Sea Horses job as it is the male seahorse that carries the eggs after they have been layed. Through out the book he also meets lots of other male fish who are looking after the eggs and babies and shows them doing a brilliant job. Of corse it can't possibly inspire boys to want to be the ones to have babies. (although in my time in nurseries I have seen plenty of boys with baby dolls stuffed up their tops) But its really refreshing to read a story where the male is involved in looking after babies and taking a big responsibility of protecting the babies. I also think that boys will find is very interesting that its the male sea horses that are the ones to carry the eggs. 

For Girls - The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams
This funny story about a hippo wanting to be the first hippo on the moon may not strike you as a girls book at first. But actually the hippo that wants to go to the moon and be an astronaught is female. It is really great to see a lead female character in such a stereotypical male role and I think it is great for girls to read a story and see that its a female that wants to head to the moon. After all there are actually so many astronaughts that are female and girls can enjoy space too. 

For Boys and Girls - Topsy and Tim go on a Train
You just have to love Topsy and Tim for all there adventures. There is such an equal part of boys and girls activities and adventures in the Topsy and Tim stories and they always do things that both sexes enjoy doing so its just right to have both a boy and a girl doing them. This story Lily loves as its all about going on a train which i'm sure we all know is something both boys and girls are both fascinated in. 

Next up is April from Prenderland Books and her choice. 

For Boys - The Best Birthday Present Ever - Ben Mantle
This is a lovely story about a squirrel who wants to get his best friend bear the perfect birthday present.
It is good for boys because it quite rightly portrays them as incredibly caring, thoughtful and valuing their friendships.  It also reminds them that it isn't the biggest and most expensive things in life that are the best, it is the little things that are special to people and that make them happy.

For Girls - Rosie Revere Engineer - Andrea Beaty & David Roberts
This is a wonderful book about a girl called Rosie who dreams of being an Engineer. She loves to invent things but they often don't quite go to plan!
It is good for girls because it shows girls in a non- stereotypical role.  It also reminds them never to give up - no matter how many mistakes you make along the way.  Just learn from them, have fun and follow your dreams.

For Boys and Girls - Beauty & The Beast - Ursula Jones & Sarah Gibb
This is a beautiful story about a young girl who is kind enough to take her Father's place and be imprisoned by The Beast.  In many ways it is a sad story but it reminds us not to judge people by their looks and that material things are not important. 
It is good for girls because it shows them that in certain parts of the world and in certain cultures women had and still have little choice over who they marry. It also reminds girls that it isn't about having the prettiest dresses and the most gold.  It is about having someone to love, that loves you for who you are.
It is good for boys because it shows them that no matter what they look like it is the person on the inside that counts.  There is a wonderful prince inside each and everyone of them.  Their friends and family see that special person and that is all that matters.  

Next up we have a selection chosen by Jenni from The Bear and the Fox 

For Boys - William’s Doll, by Charlotte Zolotow 
More than anything, William really wants a doll, to hug, and care for, and kiss goodnight. But his brother calls him a creep, and the boy next door a sissy. And his father gives him a basketball and a train set instead. He plays with both a lot, but it doesn’t stop him wanting a doll. Until one day, his grandmother comes to visit, and grants him his wish. His father is upset, until the grandmother makes him understands that William “needs it…so that when he’s a father like you, he’ll know how to take care of his baby”. Of course, not all boys want to grow up to be fathers, but this book sends home the message that it’s okay for boys to play with dolls. 

For Girls - Zog and the Flying Doctors, by Julia Donaldson 
In the first Zog book, we were introduced to Princess Pearl, who wants to be a doctor instead of “prancing round the palace in a silly frilly dress”. In this follow-up, Pearl and her Flying Doctors crew go to visit her uncle, the king, who totally disagrees with her choice and locks her up in a tower so she can go back to doing more Princess-like things, such as sewing cushions and arranging flowers. But after Pearl saves his life, he comes to his senses and realises that, of course, Princesses can be doctors. A wonderful book that empowers girls — and anyone else — to be whatever they choose to be. 

For Boys and Girls - Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio 
Bulldog Gaston and Antoinette the poodle were swapped at birth, with Gaston growing up to be prim and proper, with a love of pink, like his poodle sisters, whilst Antoinette is more brutish and brawny like her bulldog brothers. After a chance meeting in the park, they swap back, but come to realise that they were much happier where they were before. A charming and funny story, that shows it’s okay for boys to be tender and girls to be tough, and ultimately that it’s best for everyone to be whatever they want to be. 

Last but not least its a selection chosen by Amanda from Books and Pieces 

For Boys - Pip and Posy – The Little Puddle by Axel Scheffler
To my dismay, I really struggled with this one. I scoured our shelves searching for a book with a male lead in a non-typical role and I really couldn’t find one. The best I could find was The Little Puddle. This is a positive book for boys because not only does it show boy and girl characters as best friends who play really nicely together (I honestly couldn’t believe how early the boy/girl divide becomes apparent in real life), but when Pip has a little accident, he happily pops on a clean dress of Posy’s with no fuss. I’ve always been impressed that my boys have never mentioned or laughed at Pip in the dress.   

For Girls - Rosie’s Hat by Julia Donaldson 
One of Julia Donaldson’s lesser-known titles, Rosie’s Hat is a story about a little girl whose hat blows off one windy day. The hat is lost, but over the years it’s put to many uses by the people and creatures that find it, until one day Rosie is reunited with the hat – when she rescues a cat from a tree in her job as a firefighter.

I love this story because Rosie’s reappearance as a firefighter is totally unexpected, and shows a woman in a typically male role.

For Boys and Girls - I’m a Builder - Ladybird When I Grow Up Series
I’ve recently started to stock this series and I think the books are fantastic. I’m a Builder is a non-fiction book that (unsurprisingly!) looks at all the different jobs builders do. This is a brilliant book for both boys and girls because women are shown as builders alongside men on each of the pages, showing that anyone can be a builder when they grow up. 

Which of these books do you like the sound of? 

What book would you recommend that breaks the Gender Stereotype?


  1. A fantastic idea, my son loved his doll and pram when he was younger, my daughter loves cars, Ben 10 etc xxx

  2. William's doll sounds like such a sweet book. I'd also like to read Zog and the Flying Doctors. I've read the original, but not this one.

  3. Lots of great books. I love David walliams books

  4. I can't of any books to recommend!
    I never really THINK about the gender issue
    Of the books fun and BRIGHT and we can relate to the themes we ll love them all

  5. MISTER SEAHORSE :- As reminds me of one of my brothers. He was a "New Man" before the term was invented. He had children and was always supportive with his partner / wife in regards to bringing up and Caring for the children. He had always been close to Mum. When we were growing up he and I were close, we had other siblings. Life unfortunately wasn't always easy for my Brother. I am glad things have changed. As though he was supportive with the children, it was in the days when we were just beginning to have "Mum and Baby" facilities being available. These facilities when available :/ tended to be available as an anteroom within female toilets. Thank goodness times have changed :- Facilities available for changing baby / child's nappy in a variety of areas. Though maybe there should be Public Consultation / Feedback, Etc. As some facilities are for the Disabled and / or Baby / ChildCare :- When we have a rise in the Aged Population :- So we likely need both facilities available, rather than one to be shared which leads to queues, and not easy for the Disabled to queue due to ill - health etc.

    Yes Times and Cultures have Thankfully changed. Parents can be Parents :- Parental Responsibilities, Parental Leave, Etc. Fathers I believe should be accepted, acknowledged, appreciated, etc. I am very Proud of my Brother and his Caring Nature. Luckily he lived to become a GrandFather, and hopefully he will be remembered for his hard work, Caring and Nurturing Nature ( rather than the ill-health which took his energy and then his life. He died of Emphysema).

    Hoping to see more books which accept, acknowledge and appreciate the role of Fatherhood.

    Rachel Craig

  6. I think this is a great topic to explore however I think it maybe feeding into the gender stereotypes and bias by saying "this book is great for boys, this book is great for girls, this book is for both" For example the photo you used of your choices I wouldn't have been able to point out which you'd recommend for each sex, they just look like books to me. I don't think books are gender related at all, nothing for boys, nothing for girls although I think that publishers think they are. I'll read my son Cinderella and I'll read my daughter Postman Pat. Books are books, for everyone.

    1. I can recall my brother telling me that my young niece had asked for toy cars. Turns out when she was playing with friend and neighbour ( both of them only children at the time) they would play cars with his toy cars. He would play with her doll at times. Seems they were sharing toys, having fun and just being children. Luckily society is changing :- Men and women drive cars, male and female mechanics. Men and women provide childCare :- Parents, Nursery Assistants, Teachers, Etc.

      Equality and Diversity.

      Rachel Craig

  7. First Hippo on the Moon, as you say there are female Astronauts. So children's books about such an issue / topic seems sensible, practical, respectful, Aspirational, etc.

    Rachel Craig

  8. Topsy and Tim Go On A Train. Good to have books which include boy and girl. Topsy and Tim books have been popular for years.

    Rachel Craig

  9. A very interesting article - thank you very much