Pink is for Girls, Blue is for Boys


Long before becoming a parent I read a book that would forever influence how I raise my children,  Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween, by Melissa Atkins Wardy. Essentially it brings to light what we all see on a daily basis; all-pink aisles in toy stores, dolls that offer an unattainable and fabricated image of beauty that is far too sexual for any young child, and clothing that either sexualizes a child much too soon or has messages such as “Daddy’s Little Shopper”.

Having grown up a tomboy myself I always knew I wouldn’t be dressing a daughter in the obligatory pinks and purples and giving her only dolls or watching my son dressed in blue while he played exclusively with trucks or balls.  Now as the mother of both a girl and a boy my perspective has become much more real.  My daughter does play with dolls and she does wear pink, but more importantly she is given a choice and most days she chooses to play basketball and wear her Snoopy hockey tshirt.  At the same time I hope to raise my son among dolls and other stereotypical “girl toys” as well as the traditional “boy toys”.  There is so much more that I want to say but basically it comes down to is I want both my children to have the same opportunities to become whatever they want to be in this world and to never doubt themselves, their abilities, or their beauty.  Whether they fit into stereotypes or not I want it to be their choice.

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.  To honor and celebrate this day specifically for the equality of genders on all spectrums we are highlighting The Mildred L. Batchelder Award, named after a librarian who fought hard for the rights of minorities and women as well as the Amelia Bloomer Top Ten List of feminist books for young readers.  Additionally, please explore the below list of picture books that challenge gender stereotypes.


Redefining Girly by Melissa Atkins Wardy Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween
By: Melissa Atkins Wardy

Brings to light how today’s media, marketers, and manufacturers are sexualizing and stereotyping ever-young girls.  The author provides specific advice and sample conversations to prevent perpetuating gender stereotypes.   Ages 16 and up

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch The Paper Bag Princess
By: Robert Munsch

After her castle and clothes are destroyed by the dragon, Princess Elizabeth, dressed only in a paper bag, sets out to rescue Prince Ronald, who was taken captive, in an anniversary edition of the classic which includes never-before-published behind-the-scenes features.  Ages 4-7

Sleeping Bobby by Will Osborne Sleeping Bobby
By: Will Osborne

A retelling of the Grimm tale featuring a handsome prince who is put into a deep sleep by a curse until he is awakened by the kiss of a brave princess.  Ages 4-8

William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow William’s Doll
By: Charlotte Zolotow

William’s father gives him a basketball and a train but these do not make him want a doll less.  Ages 4-8

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music
By: Margarita Engle

Follows a girl in the 1920s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there has never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters.  Ages 4-7

Allie's Basketball Dream by Barbara Barber Allie’s Basketball Dream
By: Barbara Barber

Hooked on basketball from the moment she first plays, Allie nearly gives up trying to get her girlfriends to play the “boy’s game” with her, but her persistence is finally rewarded.  Ages 6-9
NotAll Princesses Wear Pink by Jane Yolen Not All Princesses Dress in Pink
By: Jane Yolen

Rhyming text affirms that girls can pursue their many interests, from playing sports to planting flowers in the dirt, without giving up their tiaras.  Ages 3-8

Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley Ballerino Nate
By: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

After seeing a ballet performance, Nate decides he wants to learn ballet but he has doubts when his brother Ben tells him that only girls can be ballerinas. Ages 4 and up

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty Ada Twist, Scientist
By: Andrea Beaty

Ada Twist is a very curious girl who shows perseverance by asking questions and performing experiments to find things out and understand the world.  Ages 5-7

The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein The Sissy Duckling
By: Harvey Fierstein
Elmer the duck is teased because he is different, but he proves himself by not only surviving the winter, but also saving his Papa.  Ages 5-8


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