art & literature

These 12 Books Are Perfect To Teach Your Children Gender Equality And Inclusion

Sheena Joseph | Apr 30 2019
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Educating your child is the best way to shape the world. If your daughter knows that she is no less than her brother, she will never hesitate to chase her dreams. If your son knows that he doesn’t have to live up to the toxic stereotypes of society, he will not suppress his partner’s true identity or assume that one gender is better than the other. Unfortunately, the world around us by default teach many stereotypes to children and breaking free needs conscious efforts. We grow up reading fairy tales in which the princess was supposed to wait until her prince charming came to save her. Damsels in distress and the omnipotent male heros is what we know about.

What if you told your children’s stories are about a princess who rescued herself? Or even better, what if she didn’t have to be a princess at all to rescue herself? What if your son grew up reading stories that told him that it is okay not to want to ride a horse or to take any arms in his hands. Also it is ok to cry and to be emotional when need to be.  How about growing up understanding that cooking is for filling your basic physiological needs and there’s nothing gender about it. If our children grew up without falling prey to the stereotypes, the world will soon be a much better place. Here are 12 children’s books that will teach your kids gender equality and inclusion.

1. The Paper Bag Princess

This super cool tale of a princess is written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko. It is one of the best children’s books out there. Princess Elizabeth is no sleeping beauty. She is a brave and smart woman who doesn’t need rescuing, but she will rescue her prince. Princess Elizabeth is in love with Prince Ronald and she is all set to marry him. But a dragon burns her castle and clothes and kidnaps the prince. She is determined to save her prince. She picks up paper bags from the ruins and wears it.

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Princess Elizabeth challenges the dragon to fly around the world. After flying around the world for the second time, the dragon is exhausted and the princess saves her prince. But, Prince Ronald is ungrateful and asks her to return to him when she is dressed like a princess. Elizabeth calls him an ungrateful, worthless bum, and happily goes on her way to live her life.

2. Pearl Fairweather Pirate Captain

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Pearl Fairweather is a pirate captain, and she is known to be brave. She sailed the seven seas with her crew of 24 women. The story takes a turn when Captain Sandy McCross demands to take over their ship. But as it is obvious, Captain Pearl puts up a fight. The book has beautifully shown respectful relationships, empowerment, diversity, leadership, need for non-bullying behaviour, and empowerment. Women in this book are strong, assertive, resilient, and confident. It is written by Jayneen Sanders and illustrated by Lesley Danson.

Also Read: 10 Feminist Non-Fiction Books Worth Knowing

3. Anna Banana And Me

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Anna Banana is a fearless girl who believes in magic. Her best friend is a boy who is scared of attempting the things that she does. Anna loves to swing high in the playground and makes up stories about scary goblins. Their adventures together are written by Lenore Blegvad and illustrated by Lenore Blegvad and Erik Blegvad. The book is all about facing fears and making the most of the magical times of childhood.

Also Read: Nine Books To Build Your Toddler A Library

4. The Princess Knight

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The Princess Knight is the best book to read to your son and daughter together. It is a classic among children’s books that sets an excellent example of gender equality. Violet is a young princess who wants to show her family and the world that she is as strong as her brothers. But, her father is keen on getting her married, and her brother makes fun of her for wanting to be included in their activities. Violet isn't discouraged. She disguises as a boy and participates in a knights’ jousting tournament. She wins the competition with her intelligence and bravery. At the end of the tournament, she reveals her identity and wins her freedom. The book is written by Cornelia Funke.

5. The Basket Ball

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The Basket Ball is the story of a little girl named Lulu. She is more interested in playing basketball than dolls. But, boys don't let her join the school team because she is a girl. Lulu is a determined young woman, and she decides to host a Basket Ball event. At her event, ball gowns are traded for basketball jerseys. Lulu's Ball is a success and girls from all over the world comes to attend the ball and show off their skills. This inspiring story is written by Esme Raji Codell and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas.

6. My Princess Boy

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My Princess Boy is written by Cheryl Kilodavis and illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone. The boy who has inspired the book is the author's own son. She wrote the book about her initial struggles to understand her son. The boy in the book loves to wear dresses and tiara. He loves pink and things that sparkle. My Princess Boy will teach you to accept children as who they are. It is about tolerance and putting an end to bullying. This warm story that encourage the world to embrace gender diversity shows the way to unconditional love of a supportive family.

7. Little Kunoichi - The Ninja Girl

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Little Kunoichi - The Ninja Girl is written and illustrated by Sanae Ishida. The story is about a little girl and her determination to achieve the skills that she dreams of. It is one of the best tales of gender equality that says no dream is big because you are born a girl. Little Kunoichi is a young ninja. She admires the skills of Samurai and works hard to get better. She works with her friend to polish her skills before the festival where she wants to showcase her skills. The story is all about hard work and perseverance and friendship.

Also Read: 10 Must Read And Inspiring Feminist Books Of Fiction

8. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

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Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is written by Christine Baldacchino and illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. Morris is a little boy who loves wearing a tangerine dress and is very imaginative. His classmates do not understand his choice, and they mock him for wearing a girl's dress. His classmates do not include him in the spaceship building project. As Morris feels alone, his mother comforts him and let him stay home. He prepares for his own spaceship project. Morris builds his own spaceship with his cat Moo and brings it to school.

9. Made by Raffi

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Made by Raffi is written by Craig Pomranz and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain. The story is about a shy boy who isn't interested in noisy games. He is teased for skipping games at school. But, his enthusiasm is elsewhere. He starts making a scarf to gift his father on his birthday. His classmates make fun of him saying that knitting is for girls. However, when the costume for the prince isn't ready on the day of the school play, Raffi saves the day. The cape he knits for the play is the star of the show.

10. Princess Smartypants

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Princess Smartypants is written and illustrated by Babette Cole, and the main character is an absolute favourite among children of the age group 4-7. Her parents want her to get married and keep presenting suitors to her. But, the princess doesn't want to get married. She put the candidates through various trials and all of them fail. She wants to prove that she doesn't need a prince in her life. She wants to prove that she can live by herself and take care of her pets. The story comes with a great sense of humour.

11. Girls Are Not Chicks

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Girls Are Not Chicks is a colouring book by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak. This is a unique book that goes against the female gender stereotypes. The diversity in the designs promotes positive gender roles. The book portrays women for the thinkers, creators, fighters, and healers that they are in real life. It is the perfect book to prevent your little one’s mind from shrinking into a closed box.

12. William’ Doll

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William's Doll is written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by William Pene du Bois. The story is about a boy who wants to play with dolls. His father tries to give 'boy toys' and divert his attention. His brother calls him a 'sissy'. Even though William enjoys playing basketball, he doesn't stop asking for a doll. His grandmother understands him and gives him a doll. She tells William's father that playing with a doll will prepare him to be a good father. The author came up with the story by observing her husband's struggles to bond with their son.