I went in to the book store the other day and they had a great offer on – 5 books for £5. So I went over to the children’s section and started browsing for my pick of books for my daughter.
Being a teacher I don’t just pick any book that looks good! I look through them for morals to the story and what lessons they will be teaching my little girl. What will they teach her? The perfect book is one where the girl is the main character and she is strong, independent, curious, adventurous, funny, smart and successful! Basically everything that I would hope my girl will grow to be.
I was shocked when I notice that hardly any of the books even touched on having a female character that displayed these characteristics. The closest I got was a princess who wanted to look pretty and have nice hair and although I want my daughter to feel pretty and think she has nice hair I would much rather her self confidence come from knowing she is strong, smart and funny!
I also only found one book where the main character (a girl) was black. I searched for a while to find it because I wanted my daughter to see a character that resembled what she looked like (she is mixed race).If all the princesses in the books are white and blonde she will never think she is a princess. If all the strong, independent characters she sees are white and blonde she will never think she can be strong and independent.
What seemed like a simple task was turning into something that was harder than it should be!
No wonder our girls are growing up with serious self confidence issues and putting a higher value on looks over strength, independence and intelligence. It is ingrained in little girls from when they are born that they should only aspire to be princesses, to be saved by a prince and in the meantime they should make sure their hair looks good! This is definitely not what I want my daughter growing up believing and thinking.
Some people may read this and think so what if a little girl wants to be a princess, and you are right there is nothing wrong with that but…… it is important that they know they can aspire to more than a princess! I think you will find if you let a little girl know they can be whatever they want and expose them to different options they won’t actually choose a princess because being a doctor/astronaut/surgeon or a fire fighter is way cooler!
Some people will also say I’m thinking way to deep into it and that they are just stories but…. those stories are what your child learns from and makes associations and links to real life from. Would you ever read a book to your girl about a man beaten up his wife? I would hope not, for the same reason I wouldn’t want to read books about little girls being princesses and waiting to be rescued by a prince. I would rather read her stories about the princess who rescues herself and then rescues the prince too!
I know it’s impossible to stop our children from being influenced into gender stereotypes because they are everywhere, but I will do my best to make sure she isn’t exposed to them all the time. Making sure her books are representing the kind of girl I want her to be is just one thing I can do.
This isn’t just with books but I just so happened to be in the books store and it got me thinking about this! I will write some more posts about other ways I try to not push gender stereotypes onto my baby.
Let me know what books you found for your little girls or boys!