I was reading a few articles you’ve linked to recently about children’s media, and a quick squiz through my little brother’s books has me kind of worried. He’s four, so this is about when that kind of stuff starts to really sink in. I’ve noticed before that his favourite series of books/cartoons, Thomas The Tank Engine, was… well, you know the drill. All the trains are male, a few coaches are female – it’s adapted from a pretty old series so that’s not surprising. Lately they’ve tried to add some girl trains but all two of them are pink and purple and the morals of their stories end up being weird riffs on the “woman enters male dominated workplace, thinks she’s all that, can be useful after all when she’s learned her place” theme. Which is really surreal in a childrens book. Then again, the (extremely unsubtle… unless you’re four, I guess) morals of all the male trains stories are basically of the training-corporate-drones genre (Really Useful is the highest accolade a train can hold – yeah, it’s REALLY REALLY blatant).
Anyway, I can’t do anything about what his favourites are, but I would like to make sure his choices include good books with more equality in them. He’s mostly being raised by my parents and grandparents but I babysit, and I can give him books for his birthdays, and I thought your readers might have some recommendations as to children’s books (preferably picture books as he can’t read yet) which have female characters and won’t make me stop halfway through reading them aloud to say things like “which is a little silly because I’m sure she could have caught the dinosaur by herself…” ALL THE TIME.
Thanks in advance
Any ideas for good children’s books that don’t tokenize girls, depend on stereotypes, or train kids to fulfill narrow gender roles (girls as “helpful” or dependent and boys as “useful”)? Or books that have characters from diverse backgrounds and family structures (i.e., not all white kids with two married heterosexual parents)?