Children’s Books That Redefine Gender Roles
If you ever ask a child what they want to become when they grow up, would you be surprised by their response? Would you support them and spur them on or would you be quick to tell them that the specific job they have “chosen” is not suitable for them as it is meant to be a “man/woman’s job”?
Most of the developing countries all over the world, recognised equal rights between men and women. There are regulations in place and equal access to services, healthcare benefits, education and economic rights. But the truth be told, discrimination still stand in this society! Women, especially, still have a limit to the opportunities out there in the workforce or the choices that affect them – salary, career advancement, discrimination due to pregnancy and when they return back to work and the lists go on. The same goes for men as well! Men are known to be the breadwinner for the family and it seems it is required of them to be more advanced in their career – better career path or higher salary. As well as equal rights for individuals of unique identities and issues.
It’s definitely the time to break the stereotype! Just like how Marissa Mayer, Google’s first female engineer and CEO of Yahoo believes in, “If you can find something you are really passionate about, whether you are a man or woman comes a lot less into play. Passion is a gender-neutralizing force.” Just work on something you’re really passionate about, focus, and don’t let other people bring you down.”
If a man chooses to be a SAHD (stay-at-home Dad), it is his choice and rights, the same goes for a woman who chooses to be a politician. We need to start acknowledging and advocating for the importance of equal rights or gender equality between both men and women. This change should start now by inculcating the right views and values in our children!
Books are particularly helpful for young children to deconstruct gender stereotypes or challenge traditional gender roles. Through storybooks or picture books, children get to explore different characters that disrupt the usual norms!
Check out these 5 awesome children’s books that redefine gender roles!
1. Ballerino Nate
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Illustrator: Robert Alley
Nate’s dream is to be a ballerina. He is extremely enthusastic about dancing. But to his brother, Ben, ballerina is only meant for girls and “boys don’t dance.” Nate almost give up when he enters the class full of girls in pink shoes and tutus. Is dancing really meant for girls? Well, Nate finds new hope when he meets professional male dancer. It is indeed a beautiful story for young children to relate to, all about determination and inspiring them to follow their dreams.
2. Princess Smartypants
Author: Babette Cole
Illustrator: Babette Cole
Princess Smartypants wants to live in her castle with her pets and do exactly as she pleased but age is catching up for her and her parents want her to get married. For sure, that is not Princess Smartypants’ plan to get married! She sets a list of almost impossible tasks for her horde of suitors and they fail miserably, only one – Prince Swashbuckle who succeeds in all the challenging tasks. But….. even Prince Swashbuckle runs away in the end. Well, the brilliant Princess Smartypants has her way for sure! She breaks the stereotype and gets exactly what she wants.
3. Whoever You Are
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Leslie Staub
Different children are smiling, playing and learning, all over the World. They may not look the same, they may not stay in the same home and they may not even speak the same language. Their lives may be so different from one another but no matter who they are or where they are, what’s inside of them, is the same – love, joy, pain and their blood. This is a story that should be read to all young children. It celebrates peace, equality and respect and also, helps young children embrace cultural diversity. It discusses differences and highlights similarities of people around the world.
4. 10,000 Dresses
Author: Marcus Ewert
Illustrator: Rex Ray
Bailey is a little boy who dreams of dresses. He is forever being told that “boys just don’t wear dresses.” When Bailey tells her parents about his wish to wear dresses, they become angry with him, emphasizing that he is a boy and boys do not wear dresses. Discrimination happens in his family too. Even his older brother gives him nasty names and threatens to hurt him. By a twist of fate, Bailey meets an older lady who was warm and accepting about Bailey’s love for dresses. Together, Bailey and her new friend – the lady, create a beautiful and indifferent dress!
5. You Be You
Author: Kinda Kranz
Little Adri sets out to explore the ocean, never knowing what he will find. On his adventure, he quickly discovers that there are all kinds of fish in the deep blue sea, and they all look different, they comes in different sizes, they swim differently and they have different behaviors. An interesting book to teach children about embracing differences and be more tolerance towards one another.
6. Sleeping Bobby
Author: Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrator: Giselle Potter
“A beautiful baby, a sinister spell, a pricked finger, a hundred-year sleep, a true-love wake-up kiss.” We have all heard about the story of Sleeping Beauty, how about Sleeping Bobby? It’s funny to read about a feisty princess who wakes a sleeping prince from his deep enchanted slumber. A perfect book to challenge the traditional norms!
These books are a good start to help children better understand gender identity, challenge the usual norms and to embrace differences. Comment below if you feel that there are other great books that should be included in this list!