Books that smash gender stereotypes
Culture. Hollywood. Schools. Communities. Social media. Books. Toys. Subtle, everyday little things are what create a man.
It is believed gender socialisation towards a particular concept of what it means to a man has a profound effect on boys emotional development, how they have (or not have) intimate relationships, and their overall psychological health. Gender roles also confine and limit women and young girls’ potential. We are all trapped in a cage and gender is the beast.
On World Book Day we see kids across the globe dress up as their favourite characters to inspire a love of reading. Sometimes these characters compound traditional gender roles such as, girls as dainty princesses and boys as lovable pirates, while others create their own heroes and smash gender stereotypes.
This is an inspirational list of books for parents and their children that defy social convention and celebrate diversity.
Looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes, to discovering the power of making people laugh, and from losing his beloved mother to becoming a husband and father, Robert Webb considers the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life.
Hilarious and heartbreaking, How Not To Be a Boy explores the relationships that made Robert who he is as a man, the lessons we learn as sons and daughters, and the understanding that sometimes you aren't the Luke Skywalker of your life - you're actually Darth Vader.
Johanna Morrigan is fourteen and has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer.
By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.
But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?
Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.
Why Love Matters explains why loving relationships are essential to brain development in the early years, and how these early interactions can have lasting consequences for future emotional and physical health.
Why Love Matters is an accessible, lively, account of the latest findings in neuroscience, developmental psychology and neurobiology – research which matters to us all. It is an invaluable and hugely popular guide for parents and professionals alike.
Renowned neurologist Dr. Frances E. Jensen offers a revolutionary look at the brains of teenagers, dispelling myths and offering practical advice for teens, parents and teachers.
Dr. Jensen gathers what we’ve discovered about adolescent brain function, wiring, and capacity and explains the science in the contexts of everyday learning and multitasking, stress and memory, sleep, addiction, and decision-making. In this groundbreaking yet accessible book, The Teenage Brain, these findings also yield practical suggestions that will help adults and teenagers negotiate the mysterious world of adolescent development.
In this witty and necessary new book, artist Grayson Perry trains his keen eye on the world of men to ask, what sort of man would make the world a better place? What would happen if we rethought the macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different ideal? In the current atmosphere of bullying, intolerance and misogyny, demonstrated in the Trump administration, The Descent of Man is a timely and essential addition to current conversations around gender.
Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are -- whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
A brave and astonishing work, The Will to Change is designed to help men reclaim the best part of themselves.
You don't have to ROAR to be heard...
Meet Leonard - a lion like no other.
Leonard's best friend is Marianne, a duck. But lions chomp ducks, don't they?
What will the pair do when their way of life is threatened?
From the New York Times-bestselling author of Max the Brave the How to Be a Lion is a powerful story celebrating daydreamers, individuality and the quiet courage to be yourself.
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?
Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut, Julian is a Mermaid, is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.
Jack and Alex meet almost every morning in the sandbox at the playground. Jack likes trucks — big ones, the kind that can wreck things. Alex likes dolls — pink ones, with sparkles. And tutus. But Jack doesn’t want to play dolls, and Alex doesn’t want to play trucks. Readers will smile at the quintessential playground squabble on display in this amusing, relatable tale from Ann Stott and Bob Graham.
Luckily for Jack and Alex, the day is saved with a little bit of compromise — what about dolls who drive trucks? — and the easy acceptance that characterizes the youngest of friendships. Not to mention a familiar jingle from nearby that reminds Jack and Alex of something else they both like: ice cream!
Princess Smartypants rules her kingdom of Totaloonia on her own - she certainly doesn't need the help of a silly Prince of a husband. However, she is always willing to help her friends, and agrees to host the engagement party of three would-be princesses. But the trouble starts when the princes fail to turn up to the party - they've gone missing. Princess Smartypants is determined to uncover the plot and rescue the princes. With the help of Eric, her friendly giant handyman, she sets off on a wacky adventure to track the princes' last moves. Can Princess Smartypants solve the case of the missing princes and get them to the chuch on time before her next case waits? Hold on to your tiaras; there's a rescue mission to solve and a riotous wedding to plan!
Feminism begins at home—and My First Book of Feminism (for Boys) is where it begins!
Simple illustrations paired with engaging, rhyming text make the compelling, age appropriate argument that girls and boys are equal, plain and simple. Humorous, familiar scenarios are treated as teachable moments for very young boys (ages 0-3) who will ideally grow up without ever questioning women's equality. From "no means no," to "women's rights are human rights," important, grownup ideas are made clear and fun for young, impressionable minds.
A boldly illustrated picture book read-aloud about how everyone gets sad—ninjas, wrestlers, knights, superheroes, everyone . . . even daddies have emotions!
Did you know wrestlers have feelings? And knights. Even superheroes and ninjas feel sad sometimes. In fact everyone has feelings—especially dads who love their children!
Children will love recognising their feelings in Keith Negley's bold illustrations which accompany a fun-to-read-aloud narrative.
Parents can joyfully engage with children in a lighthearted discussion about emotions and how they affect us all.
In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.
When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.
Franny's Father is a Feminist. It's simple, really! He knows that girls can do anything boys can do, and raises Franny to believe that she deserves all the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities to fulfill her dreams that he had. Through sweet, straight-forward prose, Franny's Father portrays the loving bond between a young girl, and her father who isn't afraid of bucking gender norms in order to ensure that his daughter grows up smart, strong, and full of self confidence. From teaching her to fix her own bicycle and splashing in the mud, to cheering at ballet recitals and supporting Franny's mother in her career, Franny's Father displays what it means for a man to be a Feminist, and how male Feminism can play a vital role in the empowerment of young women.
When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux?
The answer is: It doesn't matter. Because worm loves worm.
Perfect for fans of And Tango Makes Three and The Sissy Duckling, this irresistible picture book is a celebration of love in all its splendid forms from debut author J. J. Austrian and the acclaimed author-illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Mike Curato.
You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm...and a worm.
In Kate Hoefler’s realistic and poetic picture book debut about the wide open West, the myth of rowdy, rough-riding cowboys and cowgirls is remade. A timely and multifaceted portrayal reveals a lifestyle that is as diverse as it contrary to what we've come to expect.
A sequel to the acclaimed This Is Not A Bedtime Story by rising stars Will Mabbitt and Fred Blunt.
Sophie doesn't want a fairy tale about drippy princesses and pompous princes, she wants the princess to do the rescuing, with a ferocious, fighting transformer! Together Sophie and her dad revolutionise story time for a second time in this clever, funny and heart-ravingly exciting picture book, sure to inspire and delight every little girl and boy.
Storytime will never be the same again.
Author Anna Kemp and illustrator Sara Ogilvie turn a traditional fairy tale on its royal head in this bright and funny rhythmic story that will have readers of all ages cheering along for The Worst Princess!
Princess Sue dreams of finding her Prince Charming. But when that Prince proves to be a bit more traditional than what she had hoped for, Princess Sue—along with the help of fiery dragon—becomes determined to find a way to get the fairy-tale ending that she always evisioned for herself. For fans of Robert Munch's The Paperbag Princess!
Christmas is coming, and what Leo wants more than anything in the world is a pet hamster. And guess what? He gets one on Christmas morning! Leo names his new pet Hampstead, after an autocorrect mistake on his wishlist. Everything is great, that is, until Leo realises that Hampstead is down in the dumps. What can Leo do to cheer Hampstead up?
This young spacegirl is especially lucky to have two mothers and a very curious cat nearby when rocket troubles and nausea begin.
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler is considered one of the children's classics of the twentieth century, and contains one of the most amazing and affirming twists in all of literature.
Tyke Tiler and Danny Price are best friends, much to the despair of the headmaster of Cricklepit Combined School - because wherever the pair go, trouble is never far behind. Stolen money, a sheep's skeleton, fights in class . . . And somehow it's always trouble that Tyke has to sort out.
Can Tyke help the hapless Danny stay out of trouble for their last term? And what final surprise does Tyke have in store?
Mischief and astonishment abound in this hilariously funny classic story from award-winning author Gene Kemp.
The bestselling novel about love, loss and hope from the twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness, soon to be a major motion picture. Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.
Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, hismother's Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is... Well, it's pure hell. Why can't Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone - maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely - he'd be seen in a different light? But Noah's plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That's when things go from bad to utter chaos.
You won't find any stories of slaying dragons or saving princesses here. In Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different, author Ben Brooks-with the help of Quinton Wintor's striking full-color illustrations-offers a welcome alternative narrative: one that celebrates introverts and innovators, sensitivity and resilience, individuality and expression.
It's an accessible compilation of 75 famous and not-so-famous men from the past to the present day, every single one of them a rule-breaker and stereotype-smasher in his own way. Entries include Frank Ocean, Salvador Dali, Beethoven, Barack Obama, Ai Weiwei, Jesse Owens, and so many more-heroes from all walks of life and from all over the world.
What if the princess didn't marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom? Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives, from Ada Lovelace to Malala, Amelia Earhart to Michelle Obama. Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don't need rescuing.
The links in this article are Amazon affiliate links. This means a small commission raised from any books bought via this article will go towards researching men’s mental health at no extra cost to you. Wahoo!
In my hunt for books championing diversity I found the company Little Box of Books who run a subscription service for children aged 0-7 years. Each month they send you books that smash gender stereotypes and where children can see a mix of race and cultures, people with disabilities and a jumble of family set-ups.
I know what I will be getting all my nieces and nephews for Christmas!
What books do you love that promote diversity and equality?
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