Gather ‘round, kids! It’s QueerPGH Storytime again, and this time we’re looking at five books that challenge gender stereotypes.
Representation is important. Books that challenge gender stereotypes are important for children who are questioning the gender assigned to them, to remind them that they are not alone. These books can provide some missing parts of the picture to all kids who are still forming ideas about what this thing called gender is, exactly.
Here are five of my current favorites, each entertaining and gorgeously illustrated. They are fun to read, and may lead to some interesting conversations with your little ones. All of these books are available in the Carnegie Library system. If you don’t find one at your branch, just ask a librarian how to request it from another branch.
The Boy & the Bindi (2016)
In this charming story, a boy is fascinated by his mother’s bindi, a small dot worn on the forehead of millions of Indian women. His mother is happy to gift her son this part of their tradition, and as he wears the bindi, he feels connected to his culture and the universe. Shreya is a musician and queer theorist as well as the author of short stories, novels, and poetry.
2 copies can be found in the Carnegie Library system.
Elena’s Serenade (2004)
Written by Campbell Geeslin and illustrated by Ana Juan
Set in a magical version of Mexico, Elena’s Serenade is the tale of a young girl who wants to break into the male-dominated art of glassblowing. She dresses up as a little old man and, with the help of some talking animals and a touch of magic, creates beautiful glass art that impresses even her doubting father.
10 copies can be found in the Carnegie Library system.
“Swish, swish, swish,” is the sound the tangerine dress makes when young Morris put is on in the dress-up corner at school. This is the story of a sensitive soul who continues to be himself, even while bullying by classmates stresses him out to the point of physical pain. This might be a difficult book if the story is too close to home for a child, but could help develop empathy in children who are still figuring out how to be kind to those who are different.
19 copies can be found in the Carnegie Library system.
A Fire Engine for Ruthie (2004)
In this book by popular author Lesléa Newman, Ruthie visits her Nana and they try to find ways to play. Nana tries to engage her with tea parties and dolls, but Ruthie is drawn to firetrucks and motorcycles. Eventually, Nana gets the picture and they have a great time playing with stuff that Ruthie actually enjoys!
6 copies can be found in the Carnegie Library system.
Written and illustrated by Andrea U’ren
Sadly, this book appears to be out of print, but it is too adorable not to include. This book points out the dangers of projecting gender stereotypes on to…a dog! The main character is Pugdog, whose clueless owner finds out that she is female, and starts to treat her differently. Don’t worry, though! The human gets schooled on gender norms and Pugdog gets her knucklebone in the end.
3 copies can be found in the Carnegie Library system.