At Live Laugh Giraffe we are always keen to find ways to connect with our kids and in this article Roanna from GenNeu.co.uk gives us some suggestions of books to read to our youngsters to beat the gender stereotypes. All of these books are available on their website. We can’t wait to get cracking!
According to the Book Trust, new parents miss out on 657 hours of sleep a year, with parents getting up to look after their child three times a night on average.
But establishing a ‘Bath Bottle Bed’ routine can help you claim back some of those hours and connect with your little one at the end of a busy day.
As you read those well-worn favourites again and again, what do you notice? For starters, most children’s books focus on boys or men.
A 2017 survey by Nielson found that in the most popular children’s picture books, the lead characters were 50% more likely to be male; 20% of the books even had no female characters.
When we were picking books to stock for GenNeu, we wanted to get away from the usual damsels in distress or the idea that boys are only mucky and naughty.
We sifted through a whole stack of bedtime stories, rejecting any that were packed with stereotypes. Here’s our top picks for children’s books that’ll inspire your little ones to have I-can-do-anything dreams!
How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour
Rather than being awakened from her boredom by a kiss from a handsome prince, a job opportunity from the local library wakes this Rapunzel up, and she gets to share her love of reading with others.
Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Never mind kids, I love this book that turns the usual Red Riding hood tale on its head! It’s a sass-filled, rhyming version where Red and granny have been to Ninja school. It even ends on a positive note with the wolf agreeing to chill out and try a bit of yoga!
Molly Rogers, Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke
This is a brilliant twist on the usual swashbuckling pirate tales. When the crew of the Horrible Haddock kidnap Molly, they get a lot more than they bargained for: not only is Molly a handful, but her mum is the most feared queen of the seas, Barbarous Bertha.
For Sensitive Boys
Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe
Though they share a name, the two Bobs don’t have much in common: one likes to race around and play with cards, while the other likes to play teacher and dress up. But when a new girl questions Little Bob, they all learn that all toys are for all kids and play together.
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
After getting laughed off the jungle dance floor, Gerald the giraffe meets a new friend who encourages him to hear the music all around him and dance to his own beat. A great story for encouraging kids to pursue whatever interests them.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
You might have already seen the big-screen, cartoon version of this children’s classic. As relevant now as it was when it was first published in 1936, Ferdinand prefers to stop and smell the flowers rather than charge around like the other bulls, eventually learning to just be himself.
For Modern Families
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
This book is as beautiful as the story itself. Written by the creator of the The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Mr Seahorse chats to all the other daddies raising their babies as he drifts through the ocean waiting for his eggs to hatch.
Who’s In My Family? By Robie H. Harris
This story follows lots of families – big and small, with different skin colours, two daddies or maybe one mummy – as they get ready for and go on a trip to the zoo. Although all the families are different, this book highlights what they have in common.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo fall in love and are given an extra egg by the zookeeper to raise as their very own. Taking turns to look after the egg, when little Tango arrives they become a family of three. It’s a gentle way to talk about same-sex families with kids.
For More Diversity
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Girls and women of colour are really underrepresented in STEM subjects. With endearing rhymes and modern illustrations, it’s no wonder Andrea Beaty’s story about Ada Twist and her dreams of becoming a scientist are a New York Times Bestseller.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
This is a really endearing story about a family from Korea moving to the US and the process of making it their home. Worrying classmates won’t be able to pronounce her name, Unhei tries out new ones before realising she had the perfect one all along. It’s a great story about embracing who you are and your culture.
Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky
A great book for slightly older readers, each double page spread tells you about a famous female scientist. It’s a pretty broad definition of scientist so you’ll find engineers, geneticists and anthropologists. Fun facts about who they are as people as well as their careers really bring each person to life.
Roanna is the Co-Founder of genneu.co.uk, an online store that hopes to challenge gender stereotypes with its range of gender neutral toys and books.