top of page

Exploring Gender Diversity in Children's Literature: 10 Picture Books that Break Stereotypes with Maya from MaiStoryBook

Here’s to supporting our littles’ passions and encouraging them to share their true selves with the world ~ unrestricted by labels and stereotypes. Regardless of gender identity, all children should be encouraged to explore and pursue what brings them joy, makes them feel beautiful, and feels authentic to their true selves. 

Through this curated list, my goal is to share picture books to help make each child feel seen, represented, acknowledged, and loved. Hopefully, these recommendations help you curate inclusive libraries and shelves. 

Encourage freedom of self-expression with these 10 picture books that Bust Gender Stereotypes.

Nail Polish is Too for Boys by Emma-Claire Sunday // Anyone and everyone can wear nail polish! Alex’s world is feeling gloomy and gray, until he tries painting his nails and discovers a new brilliant world of color he never knew existed! I love how this one uses color to show the progression of Alex’s journey to self-expression. Starting with black-and white illustrations, the book transitions into full color as Alex and his diverse group of friends and family all embrace their passions and express themselves by doing what they love to do.

Molly’s Tuxedo by Vicki Johnson // Picture day is coming up, and Molly wants to look her best! But when her mom picks out a pretty dress for her to wear, Molly immediately knows that it’s not the right outfit for her. Instead, she has the perfect idea for what to wear- her brother’s old tuxedo! However, when her mom insists that Molly will look best in the dress, Molly will have to find the courage to follow her heart and help her mom realize how she feels. 

Beto’s Berry Treasure by Jenny Lacika // This book is actually part of my favorite STEM series: Storytelling Math. Through the narrative, children explore reading, creating, and navigating maps. What I love about this one is that the two main siblings defy gender norms. It’s Beto, the younger brother, who wants to play tea party, while older sister, Cora, insists on playing sword fighting. The story features Mexican American characters and includes Spanish words throughout. 

The Good Hair Day by Christian Trimmer // Children can style their hair in whatever way makes them feel good! In this story, Noah wants one thing more than anything else in the world: long, beautiful, wavy hair. In order to achieve this: no hair cuts. But Noah doesn’t think he can ask for long hair, since all of the boys he knows have long hair, and he’s heard people say mean things about men with long hair. However when a recent haircut troubles Noah, his caring family finds a way to show Noah that it’s okay for him to share his true, gorgeous self with the world!

The Fairest in the Land by Leslea Newman // Boys can wear dresses and play princesses too. When best friends Anabelle and Benjamin both want to dress up as the bride, ballerina, and princess, will they find a way for them to both be the fairest in the land? Turns out that having two princesses means twice the fun! Overall this is a sweet story of friendship, play, and acceptance.

Boys Dance by John Robert Allman // Celebrate boys who love to dance! This book addresses the prejudice toward boys and ballet by depicting the hard work, dedication, intelligence, and skill it takes to be a dancer. The illustrations show a diverse cast of boy ballet dancers who pirouette, jeté, and plié to their heart’s content, practicing until they perfect the skill. This book shows that ballet is truly for everyone. 

Flower Girl by Amy Bloom // Nicki is excited to be the Flower Girl at her favorite aunt’s wedding, but when it comes to picking out the perfect outfit, Nicki just isn’t feeling like herself in any of the dresses she tries on. Soon, Nicki finds herself dreading the wedding, until she finds the courage to speak up and share her own style of expression. Girls don’t always have to wear dresses; they can wear suits too!

No One Owns the Colors by Giana Davy // All colors are for everyone! Colors are not owned by any particular gender or culture. Color is simply part of the natural world; it is not something that can be right or wrong. This one encourages kids to embrace all of the colors that make them feel happy, and to appreciate every color on the spectrum. 

Except When They Don’t by Laura Gehl // Too often children are told that they should enjoy certain toys and play scenarios, that they should have specific interests, and they should dress or act a certain way because of their gender. This book challenges these concepts of “boy” vs “girl” activities and encourages children to play with whatever brings them joy, and to be true to their authentic selves.

Pink, Blue, and You by Elise Gravel // This picture book is a helpful resource and tool to help parents and educators introduce and navigate conversations about gender stereotypes and everyone’s right to freedom of self-expression. The book breaks down big concepts into simple language with colorful, quirky illustrations, and overall encourages inclusivity and acceptance.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page