Monday, October 21, 2013

Finding Books that Look Like You: Gender roles in Books

While staff seems to accept and even embrace stories where girls break the old gender barriers by being independent and adventurous and (gasp) being the hero, I still face resistance to books such as My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kildodavis. It's a process, as they say.  I will continue to slowly introduce 'controversial' titles as long as they are well written and have a valuable message. 

Add your favorites in the comments.  How do you deal with resistance on 'sensitive' topics?

Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He's a Princess Boy.

Here are some other titles that challenge the traditional expectations of gender roles in children's books.

Amazing Grace 
By Mary Hoffman.
Grace loves to act out stories. She eventually overcomes restrictions of gender and race to play the part of her dreams, Peter Pan, in the school play.

Anna Banana and Me
By Lenore Blegvad.
Anna Banana is a fearless young girl. When she plays with a timid boy, he eventually becomes as brave as his friend

The Art Lesson

Written and illustrated by Tomie DePaola
Tommy loves to draw but feels constrained in art class. A new teacher finally strikes a compromise to allow for Tommy’s creativity.

Boy, Can He Dance!
By Eileen Spinelli.
Tony doesn't want to become a chef like his father. Instead, he wants to dance. 

The Chalk Box Kid
By Clyde Bulla.
Gregory does not have anywhere to grow a garden, so he creates one of his own.

Ira Sleeps Over

Written and illustrated by Bernard Waber.
When Ira is invited to sleep over at Reggie’s house, he must decide whether to take his beloved teddy bear. In the end, he learns that it is acceptable for boys to have teddy bears.

Little Granny Quarterback
By Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson. 
Granny, who was a star quarterback in her youth, leaps into her television to assist her favorite team with the winning touchdown.

Mama and Me and the Model T
By Faye Gibbons. 
When the Model T arrives, Mama proves that she, like the men, can drive.

The Paper Bag Princess
By Robert Munsch.
Princess Elizabeth rescues her prince from a fire-breathing dragon. When he doesn't  appreciate her efforts, she decides not to marry him after all.

Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt
Written and illustrated by Lisa Campbell Ernst.
Sam isn't welcome in the women’s quilting club, so he organizes a men’s quilting group. Eventually the men and women join to make a quilt together.

The Story of Ferdinand
By Munro Leaf. 
This classic about the value of peace presents Ferdinand, a young bull who prefers smelling flowers to butting heads.

Tough Boris
By Mem Fox.
Boris is tough, but in the end when his parrot companion dies, he—like all pirates—cries.

When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry
Written and illustrated by Molly Bang. 
Sophie gets angry and deals with her strong feelings by climbing trees

White Dynamite and Curly Kidd
By Bill Martin Jr. and John Archam-bault. 
A child excitedly watches Dad ride the rodeo bull and wants to grow up to be a bull rider like him. The twist is that she’s a girl

Titles selected from the list prepared by Lisen C. Roberts and Heather T. Hill 

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