Hello from Youth Services! As many of you know, it is our busiest time of year for many reasons – Summer Reading Club, Cultural Passes, and LOTS of reading requests! One subject I have been asked about for kiddos are books that question gender norms. I’ve started keeping a list of these books and I’d like to share some of my favorites:
Big Boys Cry by Jonty Howley (2019). Father sees son cry. Father tells son that men don’t cry. Son sees LOTS of men cry. Son learns that it is okay to cry after all. Not only does this book throw the stereotype that “big boys don’t cry” out the window, but as a Youth Librarian, I find that this story has a good flow and is just long enough to keep littles’ attention without being too long. It also has colorful pictures and eye-catching detail.
When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (2019). When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. Now that he’s about to become a big brother, he wants to try his best to make his new sibling feel happy and safe, and he’s afraid that he’ll make mistakes. But Aidan knows how to love and that’s the most important skill for being a good brother. Again, from a librarian perspective, this book was a good length with good pictures. My favorite part of this book was the insight that it gave. Something I constantly learn from working with children is how smart they are! They are really in-tune if we just listen to them, and you get this from this book. The care and protection Aiden feels for his unborn sibling is amazing, and his entire experience is a reminder that we should listen to children more often.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko (1987). Princesses aren’t just what they appear to be, and they don’t need the Prince tos save them! This is a classic favorite of mine, and I love to recommend it every chance I get, because 1. It is a great and HILARIOUS story and 2. It is a great example of how ladies can seem like “damsels” but are quite capable of taking care of themselves and definitely don’t need a prince to do it for them!
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant (2014). Boys don’t wear dresses – especially not oranges ones that go swish, swish, swish, and take you to space where you see elephants and tigers…or do they? My favorite thing about this book is all of the sensory appeal. There are vibrant colors and lots of great descriptions; like how Morris loves the tangerine (not orange) dress because “it reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair.” And don’t forget the noises it makes! The “swish, swish, swish…” and the “…crinkle, crinkle, crinkle…” There are so many good things to love about this story, you almost forget to be sad when Morris is picked on just because he wants to wear a dress because he is a boy. In the end, they learn that wearing a dress is not the most important thing about him, but we already knew that.
These are just a few of the great books we have on this topic, and we are getting more in all the time. Be sure to stop by the Youth Services desk and ask for any of these or others!
— Jamie B., Youth Services Librarian