8 Ways That Children’s Books Encourage Gender Equality

8 Ways That Children’s Books Encourage Gender Equality

A number of children’s books continue to reinforce gender stereotyping, i.e. girls are beautiful, charming, quiet and well-mannered; boys are strong, powerful, assertive and rarely show their emotions. It is important that we identify these and ensure our children also read books that defy these stereotypes so that equality between genders becomes normal.

‘There is no doubt that violence against women and children is deeply rooted in power imbalances that are reinforced by gender norms and stereotypes.’ 
(p2, State of Victoria, Royal Commission into Family Violence: Summary and recommendations, Parl Paper No 132 (2014–16)). 


To help reduce gender stereotyping, consider these points in the books your kids are reading… 

  1. Are girls portrayed as strong characters? 

  2. Are boys portrayed as kind and caring? 

  3. Are girls daring, brave and smart? 

  4. Are boys portrayed as nurturing and loving? 

  5. Are girls resilient problem solvers? 

  6. Are boys respectful to all genders? 

  7. Are girls interested in science, technology, engineering, maths, outdoors, adventuring? 

  8. Are boys able to, and encouraged to, express their feelings?

There are many classic and well-loved children’s stories that unfortunately do reinforce the damaging stereotypical views that women/girls are delicate and inferior to men/boys who are powerful and strong. You do not need to remove these from your bookshelves — but do make sure to use these as great teaching opportunities. Discuss the characters with your children and how they could be different, or rewrite and draw the story together with the character’s genders swapped.


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