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9 Children’s Books That Challenge Gender Stereotypes 📚

Written by Jos on 2nd March, 2020

In time for World Book Day and International Women’s Day, we have listed our favourite books that teach children they have the right to be whoever they want to be, regardless of gender.

Currently in the UK female pupils consistently outperform males academically and in gaining entry to college and university. Yet, more males stay in work and there is currently a gender pay gap of 16 per cent as the UK falls six places in the global rankings for gender equality. (World Economic Forum, 2020)

According to researchers’ children absorb stereotypes, including about gender roles, by age 3.

But when children read books that break gender stereotypes, research has found, they reach for less stereotypical toys and broaden their future goals. (Abad & Pruden, 2013)

Below we’ve listed 9 books that help teach children and young people gender equality and remove gender stereotypes.

Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed the World Without Killing Dragons

By Ben Brooks, Illustrated by Quinton Wintor

This collection of short biographies and illustrations shows role models that expand the definition of what it means to be a man. It includes men who were artistic, innovative or introverted, as varied as Bill Gates, Ai Weiwei and Frank Ocean.

Mae Among the Stars

By Roda Ahmed, Illustrated by Stasia Burrington

Based on the life of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel to space. The book is about pushing back against sexism and racism and about the value of hard work.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea

By Kai Cheng Thom, Illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching

The book follows Miu Lan, a child who can change into any shape imaginable, but can’t decide which to be — a bird or a fish, a tree or a star, a boy or a girl.

My First Book of Feminism (for Boys)

By Julie Merberg, Illustrated by Michéle Brummer-Everett

This book challenges stereotypes early with rhymes and drawings that address grown-up issues like equal pay, consent and domestic labour with toddler-level directness.

I Am Enough

By Grace Byers

I Am Enough is about loving who you are, respecting others and being kind to one another. It’s a great conversation starter around self-esteem and being proud of who you are as an individual.

Some Girls

By Nelly Thomas

This book is about knowing that girls can do and be anything they want. Covering cars and bikes to art and dolls, Some Girls smashes stereotypes and celebrates all interests.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

By Vashti Harrison

Harrison tells the real-life stories of 40 trailblazing black women, including Mary Seacole, Diane Abbott and Sojourner Truth.

Malala’s Magic Pencil

By Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet

Malala tells her story for younger readers, beginning with her childhood dreams of a magic pencil to stop time and allow her to sleep in in the morning, continuing through to her growing desire to change the world and ensure her voice could be heard.

Molly on the March

By Anna Carey

Carey's historical novel follows young Dubliner Mollie Carberry as she joins the battle for women’s suffrage in Ireland.

To help schools promote gender equality and encourage pupils to speak up we have created a free six-week Equality Programme. Click below to find out more. 

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