Combat harmful gender stereotypes with these children’s books
Gender bias in children’s books is more prevalent than you might think. It has been covered by several newspapers recently. The Guardian ran the story Must monsters always be male? Huge gender bias revealed in children’s books. They discovered,
In-depth analysis of the 100 most popular children’s picture books of 2017, carried out by this paper with market research company Nielsen, reveals the majority are dominated by male characters, often in stereotypically masculine roles, while female characters are missing from a fifth of the books ranked.
The Guardian 21 Jan 2018
Do your own gender balance book test. Simply pick ten books from your bookshelf or your child’s book corner and look at the gender balance.
How many male characters are there?
How many female characters are there?
Who gets to speak?
Who gets to act?
What are male and female characters shown doing?
Who are the heroes?
Who are the villains?
Read more about the gender balance book test here.
The Let Toys Be Toys Parenting Science Gang (LTBT PSG) have studied the effects of story books on children’s social attitudes. As part of this they put their heads together and created a book list of lots of books that didn’t reinforce gender stereotypes.
Whether you are a primary teacher or a parent this non-stereotype book list is bound to have several books that capture your interest and would make excellent additions to your collection.
Preschool and Early Years Booklist
These two stories challenge stereotypes and have the message that everyone is different and special in their own way.
My Mummy is a Plumber by Kerrine Bryan, Marissa Peguinho, Jason Bryan
This rhyming book aims to transform the ways children view careers. There is a whole series including My Mummy is an Engineer, My Mummy is a Scientist, My Mummy is a Soldier and the soon to be released My Daddy is a Nurse.
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
This is a neutral book written to make your children laugh as you say silly words.
Through My Window by Tony Bradman, Eileen Brown
This multicultural book shows life on the child’s street as they wait for their mum to come home from work.
Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones, Sara Ogilvie
The book features a girl inventor whose primary carer is her grandpa. It shows the character trying again and again.
KS1 Booklist (ages 5–7)
Press Here by Hervé Tullet
With no characters or mentions of gender, this book takes you on a journey that starts by pressing a yellow dot.
Baking with Dad by Aurora Cacciapuoti
This book follows the story of a girl and dad baking.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, David Roberts
Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
This book is about inclusion and acceptance and exploring who you are and what you like.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, Isabelle Malenfant
This book follows the story of Morris who likes to wear dresses and his peers reactions to it.
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, Meg Hunt
This retelling of the traditional tale of Cinderella is set in space and challenges the stereotypes in the original story.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko
Princess Elizabeth is expected to marry Ronald, but things don’t go quite according to plan in this book that challenges gender stereotypes.
A House for Everyone by Jo Hirst, Naomi Bardoff
Learn about gender expression and identity with this story and that you can be yourself.
Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman, Eda Kaban
This book reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids, and their grown-ups, to express themselves in every color of the rainbow
Except When They Don’t by Laura Gehl, Joshua Heinsz
This rhyming book reminds children they can play with the toys they want to.
Shark Lady by Jess Keating, Marta Álvarez Miguéns
This true story shares how Eugenie Clark became known as the shark lady.
Curious Pearl, Science Girl 4D by Eric Braun, Stephanie Dehennin
This interactive science series of books shows that science is for everyone.
KS2 Booklist (ages 7–11)
Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson
This book tells the story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer
Tara Binns by Lisa Rajan, Eerika Omiyale
This series of books contains some Big Cat Phonics books. They are designed to inspire children to think about different careers.
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp
This classic book explores gender stereotypes as the character of Tyke unfolds.
If you would like to know why LTBT PSG ran this study. Take a look at their blog post explaining their motivation.