Picture Books and Gender Norms

Is there such a thing as a ‘girl’s book’ or a ‘boy’s book’?  Not according to Shannon Hale, author of The Princess in Black series, and her fiery keynote at the 2015 SCBWI Annual Summer Conference in LA where she encouraged ending this common distinction. In addition, the conversation around gender norms, and who gets to decide what they are, continues to be at the forefront of social discourse. And while some readers have always seen covert LGBTQ undertones in classic characters like Harriet the Spy, Ferdinand the Bull, and Pippi Longstocking (among others), the reference to being other than heteronormative, along with the movement itself, is coming out. Some industry professionals are paying attention.51c775a1zhl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Picture books like Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress (Groundwood Books, 2014), I Am Jazz (Dial Books, 2014), and Worm Loves Worm (Balzer + Bray, 2016address gender norms and non-traditional families, providing a beginning look through ‘windows and mirrors’ for readers.

For a more complete list, history, and discussion of kids’ books that deconstruct gender norms and explore love in various forms, see the full piece from BookRiot and The Guardian.


Wetta, Molly. (2016, Nov. 29). 8 Picture Books That Deconstruct Gender Norms. Retrieved from: http://bookriot.com/2016/11/29/8-picture-books-deconstruct-gender-norms/.

Masad, Ilana. (2017, Feb. 23). Queer Children’s Books Have a Long History That’s Only Now Being Told. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2017/feb/23/queer-childrens-books-have-a-long-history-thats-only-now-being-told?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=c29f8e80c1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_28&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-c29f8e80c1-305871045.

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