During my church’s Peace Camp last summer, we talked a lot about how men and women are different. It was so interesting to see how the kids both defied gender stereotypes and reflected the ones they’d learned from the world around them.
The best way to fight stereotypes of all kinds is to read good books with each other. In our house, there are no “girl books” or “boy books.” We also talk about how there are more than two types of people. Kids learn that some people ask us to use they/them pronouns because that best reflects who they are. Post: This one lists 19 of the best books for kids of all ages, both picture book and chapter books, that help them break down gender stereotypes. There are people who talk about gender openly, and there are also people who don’t say anything at all.
Picture books that challenge gender stereotypes
My Friend Robot by Sunny Scribens, Hui Skipp, and Norma Jean Wright
Singing along, kids build a treehouse with the help of their new robot, which was made by the young Black girl who leads the group. Young children learn a lot about simple machines and how they work all around us as they go.
When you buy the book, it comes with a CD with different versions of the song. It’s sung to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down.” It has always been a big hit when I’ve used this book with preschool and kindergarten groups. Ages 3 to 7 are recommended for this game.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
So often, adults tell boys to hide their emotions. This is one of the ways that kids learn about gender stereotypes at a very young age.
Dad: Jabari says he’s going to jump off the diving board for the first time when he gets there. If he doesn’t look scared, Jabari tells his dad that he isn’t afraid at all. It’s important for Jabari to know that it’s okay if he doesn’t want to jump, but his father shows him how to do that. Ages 3 to 7 are recommended for this game.
Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee and Eliza Wheeler
Think tattoos are all about being a tough guy? Not at all! In this heartfelt conversation, you will change your mind. This is what a father does with his young son.
When Dad gets inked, he gets tattoos that make him think of his favorite childhood book and the words “be kind” that his own father told him. It doesn’t matter that some of the tattoos are very detailed. The little boy likes the one that is the simplest the best. Ages 3 to 7 are recommended for this game.
Barefoot Books Children of the World by Tessa Strickland, Kate DePalma, and David Dean
One way this book challenges gender stereotypes is through its detailed illustrations of kids having fun at home and at school. In this picture, there are also a lot of kids who have disabilities, as well as a lot of different families.
A lot of other books don’t celebrate the diversity of our world in such a beautiful and subtle way, but this one does. It also helps kids figure out what we have in common as people. The illustrations are so beautiful that kids will love looking at them. 4 to 8 years old should use this.
Elena’s Serenade by Campbell Geeslin and Ana Juan
Elena wants to be a glassblower like her father, who makes magical things like wands and wands of glass. But her father thinks she’s too young, and “who has ever heard of a girl glassblower?” Pedro, Elena’s brother, says that she should go to Monterrey, where all the best glassblowers work, to learn how to make them.
As a boy, Elena goes on a trip by herself. When she blows on her pipe to pass the time, she finds out that she can make amazing music that makes the animals she meets happy. At Monterrey, she is going to be even more amazed by what her serenades can do. (It’s best for ages 4 to 8).
This is a link to 18 picture books about strong, feisty girls and women.
Grab my printable list of top diverse books for every age, from 2 to 12
Plus, find out which “classic” books I don’t recommend because they are racist.
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Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant
Morris likes to paint, do puzzles, and sing the loudest at circle time at school, but he doesn’t like sitting still. However, his favorite thing is to dress up and put on the tangerine dress in the dress-up corner. It looks like tigers, the sun, and his mom’s hair. He likes how the dress moves when he walks.
It doesn’t work. His classmate Becky tries to get the dress off of him, saying that boys can’t wear dresses. “Astronauts do not wear dresses.” That’s why the other boys don’t want him to ride in their cardboard spaceship. There have been a few days of this now, and Morris doesn’t feel so good. Her son can stay home from school. While at home, he thinks about going on a space safari while dressed in the tangerine dress. When Morris goes back to school, he’s ready to be and play the way he wants to. 4 to 8 years old should use this.
The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz and Steve Adams
They don’t want to be around Rink Bowagon because he comes from a family that has weird skills. That’s why no one knows about his own unique talent, though. Flowers grow all over him when the moon is full, and he does this every time. As soon as Rink has the chance to use his unique skills, what will happen?
You should read this book if you want to learn more about soft, kind boys. 4 to 8 years old should use this.
Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat
The first time I saw this book at the store, its beautiful art drew me in.
There are times when it’s hard for grandsons and grandfathers to get to know each other better. Even more so for a Vietnamese American child who doesn’t speak the same language as his grandfather. There’s a good chance that the day won’t go well at first, because the two are bored and frustrated that they can’t talk. But when they find out they both love to draw stories, everything changes.