For as many times as I have heard comments about gender stereotypes for girls, I have heard as many comments towards boys.
“Your hair looks like a girl!”
“Pink is a girl color!”
“You’re at the girl table!”
Often times the emphasis put on the word “girl” is that of disdain, or disgust. It never ceases to amaze me that even at the age of five and six, children can use these words towards one another with the intent to insult. Of course, being the teacher, and mom-of-boys that I am, I attack these learning moments head on.
I feel that I wouldn’t be doing my job as a teacher of young children properly and to the best of my ability if I let these little, seemingly harmless, gender statements go by the wayside.
To me they are not harmless, and I know after hearing them a number of times, they can effect a child’s self esteem. So again I turn to children’s literature to help me teach and share ideas, as well as create a space for discussion.
Having already shared my top picks of children’s literature addressing gender stereotypes for girls, I now present my top list of picture books that help break gender stereotypes for boys:
Oliver Button is a Sissy, by Tommy DePaola: An oldie but a goodie! Oliver Button wants to dance. Tap dance, specifically. He is teased by his peers, and even his own father believes he should do more “boy” activities. But Oliver sticks to his guns and ignores the negative comments, continuing to pursue what is close to his heart.
William’s Doll, by Charlotte Zolotow: William wants a doll to take care of, but he is met with opposition from his brother, friends, and even his father. His grandmother is the person who understands him the most, and buys William the doll.
Jacob’s New Dress, by Sarah Hoffman: Jacob, like so many young children, loves to play in the dress up area. And just like so many young boys, wants to wear the dresses and fancy shoes. But the children at school tease him and tell him that dresses are for girls only. His family supports his wishes and they help Jacob make a dress to wear to school, where he stands up to his peers and is proud of his choices.
My Princess Boy, by Cheryl Kilodavis: Written by a mom about her young son, who likes to wear dresses and tiaras and all things sparkly.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino: I wasn’t aware of this book until my librarian friend told me that she was reading it to her five year old daughter, and having a discussion with her about the topic – boys who like to wear dresses in the dramatic play area at school, and how they are teased about this choice.
It’s Okay to be Different, by Todd Parr: Who doesn’t love Todd Parr? He has written a ton of books, and his basic and colorful illustrations are completely eye catching. This book, just like his others, uses simple text to get the point across that people are different.