Combat harmful gender stereotypes with these children's books

Gender bias in children’s books is more prevalent than you might think. Last year, several national newspapers published articles about gender bias and gender stereotypes in children's literature. 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 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 list of books that didn’t reinforce gender stereotypes. 

 

Whether you are a 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 book collection. 

 
 

Preschool and Early Years Counter Gender Stereotype Booklist

 

Some girls book Some boys book 
Some Girls and Some Boys by Nelly Thomas

Ages 2 - 5
These two stories challenge stereotypes and have the message that everyone is different and special in their own way. 

 

My mummy is a plumber book 
My Mummy is a Plumber by Kerrine Bryan, Marissa Peguinho, Jason Bryan

Ages 3 - 7
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

 

Through my window book 
Through My Window by Tony Bradman, Eileen Brown

Ages 3 - 7
This multicultural book shows life on the child’s street as they wait for their mum to come home from work. 

 

Izzy Gizmo book 
Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones, Sara Ogilvie 
Ages 3 - 7

The book features a girl inventor whose primary carer is her grandpa. It shows the character trying again and again. 

 
 
 

KS1 Counter Gender Stereotype Booklist 

 

Baking with dad book 
Baking with Dad by Aurora Cacciapuoti

Ages 3 - 8
This book follows the story of a girl and dad baking. 

 

Rosie Revere, Engineer book 
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, David Roberts

Ages 4 - 8 
This book is about a girl who dreams of becoming an inventor. This series also includes Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect

 

Julian is a Mermaid book 
Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Ages 4 - 7
This book is about inclusion and acceptance and exploring who you are and what you like. 

 

The Tangerine Dress book 
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, Isabelle Malenfant 

Ages 4 - 7
This book follows the story of Morris who likes to wear dresses and his peers reactions to it. 

 

Interstellar Cinderella book
 
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, Meg Hunt

Ages 4 - 7
This retelling of the traditional tale of Cinderella is set in space and challenges the stereotypes in the original story. 

 

Paper Bag Princess book 
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko

Ages 4 - 7
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 book 
A House for Everyone by Jo Hirst, Naomi Bardoff

Ages 4 - 8
Learn about gender expression and identity with this story and that you can be yourself. 

 

Pink is for Boys Book 
Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman, Eda Kaban

Ages 4 - 8
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 dont book 
Except When They Don't by Laura Gehl, Joshua Heinsz

Ages 4 - 8
This rhyming book reminds children they can play with the toys they want to. 

 

Shark Lady book 
Shark Lady by Jess Keating, Marta Álvarez Miguéns

Ages 4 - 8
This true story shares how Eugenie Clark became known as the shark lady. 

 

This is our House book 
This is Our House by Michael Rosen, Bob Graham

Ages 5 - 7
This book explores sharing, exclusion, and discrimination.

 

Curious pearl science girl book 
Curious Pearl, Science Girl 4D by Eric Braun, Stephanie Dehennin

Age 5 - 8
This interactive science series of books shows that science is for everyone. 

 
 
 

KS2 Counter Gender Stereotype Booklist

 

Adas ideas book 
Ada's Ideas by Fiona Robinson

Ages 6 - 10
This book tells the story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer

 

Tara Binns book 
Tara Binns by Lisa Rajan, Eerika Omiyale

Ages 7 - 8 
This series of books contains some Big Cat Phonics books. They are designed to inspire children to think about different careers. 

 

Turbulent term of tyke tiler book
 
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp

Age 9 - 14
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. 

 

 


If you would like to some tips for reading with children then make sure you read our 10 Storytelling Tips for Parents blog.

 

If you are looking for more ways to inspire reading in your class then read our Wordless Picture Books blog or have a look at our Easy Book Corner Ideas blog.

 


Catherine LynchCatherine Lynch

@planbeecath

Hi! I'm a former primary school teacher and resource creator at PlanBee. I've nearly completed my post graduate training in Play Therapy. I am interested in mental health and wellbeing in schools and government education policy. I enjoy creating practical lessons, especially topic lessons that have a science or English focus. Read more


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