Today’s challenge theme is books with unusual #genderroles, and boy do we have some treats for you!
Read on to see what books you should add to your shelf!
Pink is for Boys
Written by: Robb Pearlman
Illustrated by: Eda Kaban
For Ages: 4-7 years
This is a simple book that explains how all the colors are for everyone, and gives plenty of examples! These fun illustrations highlight the color of topic by giving more examples. For example: Orange is for girls. And boys. And popsicles dribbling down sticky chins. The illustrations are fairly diverse and show many body types as well as ability levels. A fun and quick read for young children, this would be a great book to begin a conversation within a classroom about gender stereotypes.
I’m Jay, Let’s Play
Written by: Beth Reichmuth
Illustrated by: Nomy Lamm
For Ages: 3-8 years
This book follows a child named Jay during their day at preschool. Jay has short brown hair, a guitar shirt, and a sparkly skirt over their pants. Jay talks about their friends and what everyone does during the day. In dramatic play, they bake pizza and distribute it to the class. A friend named Casey loves Jay’s sparkly skirt, and so Jay shares another one that they brought in their backpack. Casey and Jay with the rest of the class dress up fancy and play together, having a party and then knocking down a block tower. It’s then time to clean up and go home!
This book is interesting because it doesn’t directly address the fact that Jay is relatively genderqueer. Jay’s gender is not mentioned, neither are pronouns. The classroom and its activities are completely normalized as everyone dressing up however they please, and playing with a variety of toys in the classroom. In the back of the book, the author lists some talking points and questions for reading this book with a group or class. Simple plot line, and a great way to introduce the concept of “everything is for everyone” to young children.
Sugar and Snails
Written by: Sarah Tsiang
Illustrated by: Sonja Wimmer
For ages: 4-7 years
Our story opens at a kitchen table, where two young children are sitting with their grandfather. He recites the old rhyme about what little girls and boys are made of. Indignantly, both children disagree with the rhyme and point out what they don’t do that’s in the rhyme. Their grandfather begins making up new rhymes that fit the children better. Whimsical illustrations accompany the new rhymes, involving rocks, toast, and butterfly socks. Whales, rubber boots, and dinosaur tails! The book ends with both children in elaborate costumes, dressing up to show what they’re made of.
Written & Illustrated by: Airlie Anderson
For ages: 4-7 years
This story takes place in a world where there are only blue bunnies (this) and yellow birds (that), the Land of This and That. Until one day, a self-described ‘both’ hatches. This little critter is green, with bunny ears and bird wings. The others tell Both that they can’t be both, so they must be Neither. Looking sad, they aren’t allowed to join into any of the rabbity games, or birdy activities. Neither flies away to find Someplace Else to live, at the birds and rabbits suggestion.
This book can be used in so many different scenarios. Talking about a new student joining the class, talking about exclusion, differences, gender identity, or any situation where someone might be feeling a little different. Cute, brightly colored illustrations capture how the animals are feeling, helping with mood identification and empathy development for young children by learning to read expressions. Overall, an adorable book that teaches a great lesson of inclusion and being yourself!
Jacob’s New Dress
Written by: Sarah and Ian Hoffman
Illustrated by: Chris Case
For Ages: 4-8 years
This book realistically addresses potential bullying that might arise for children dressing outside of their assigned sex. There are more supporters of Jacob than naysayers, but the reader can tell his mother is hesitant to allow him the freedom of dress her desires outside of his home. The book is a fantastic way to begin learning about self-expression and individuality in the early childhood classroom.