Characters in Books

Many of our gender expectations are learned and reinforced by the characters in stories. This gendered behavior is often subtext – but powerful just the same.

In children’s books, even with female protagonists, girls still aspire to traditional gendered roles – ballerina, princess and fashion designer. Boys aspire to be scientists, farmers, chefs & zookeepers.

Parental characters are also highly gendered, with mothers primarily shown as the more active parent, caring and tending the children and fathers shown as less involved, often silly.

When children read these books, they are learning about expectations. What gets ridiculed in these stories? Who gets isolated? Who wins?

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