We believe all children should be able to choose freely the books they like best and we celebrate all the marvellous writers, illustrators, publishers and booksellers that avoid putting boy or girl labels on books. Here we list some of our favourite reads for the very small people in our lives.
All booksellers featured on this page have received the Let Toys Be Toys “Toymark award” – our good practice award for the stores that are getting it right.
If you live near a great local bookshop that doesn’t segregate or signpost books according to gender please nominate them for our Toymark Award! Tweet us at @LetToysBeToys, send us a Facebook message, or email email@example.com
A girl can explore a hot jungly place, or float in a rocket ship way out in space. Girls can fly planes or dive under the sea. Yes, girls can be anything they want to be”. A simple and effective empowerment book aimed at getting girls to aim as high as they’d like to! The energy pours out on to the start and end pages with double page spreads of girls rock climbing and, later, mini bios and pictures of 15 notable women, including UK’s first female firefighter, the first person with Down Syndrome to swim the English Channel, the first female amputee to climb Mount Everest, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Nicola Adams and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Recommended ages 3 – 6.
£6.99 from Letterbox Library
Errol loves gardening, but he doesn’t have a proper garden. Although his home is full of beautiful plants, he longs for an outdoor space where he can grow things. A chance discovery leads to a solution, but Errol can’t do everything on his own. Luckily, help is near at hand. A heart-warming and inclusive tale about how one small boy’s dream of a garden unites a diverse community in a positive and enriching experience for everyone.
5.99 from Child’s Play
Mesmerizing and full of heart, this is a picture book about self-confidence and love, and a radiant celebration of individuality. While riding the subway home with his Nana one day, Julian notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train carriage.
When Julian gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies and making his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will Nana think about the mess he makes – and even more importantly – what will she think about how Julian sees himself?
Recommended for readers approx 4+
£11.99 from News From Nowhere
Spacegirl is getting ready to blast off into outer space, but she starts to feel queasy. Bleurg! Spacegirl is sick! Will her mission be cancelled? Will Spacegirl ever reach the stars? What a good thing both her mummies are there to look after her. A perfect tale for reading with young children, this new edition has returned to Vanda Carter’s original illustrations to accompany Katy Watson’s hilarious story.
Available in store at Gay’s The Word bookshop, 66 Marchmont St, London W1 (near Russell Sq Tube) or £8.99 online at Letterbox Library
This charming tale by Simona Ciraolo is all about young Felipe the cactus. Poor Felipe just wants a hug but his family just isn’t the touchy-feely kind. One day Felipe decides he can’t wait around for a hug anymore, and so he sets off on his own to find his own special friend. Hug Me is an endearing tale of friendship, and love above all else.
£11.99 from Ottie and the Bea
Let’s find out which toys Rosa and her friends are playing with today!
An important series that celebrates inclusivity, promotes gender equality and embraces the uniqueness of every child.
£4.99 from Childs Play Books
Pearl Power is a feisty five-year-old who believes very strongly in girl and boy equality. The second in this beautiful children’s series, Pearl Power and the Toy Problem, sees Pearl once again showing the boys that girls are every bit as great, and that there’s no such thing as ‘girl toys’ and ‘boy toys’. Pearl and Sebastian have become best friends, and they are on a mission to tackle stereotyping within children’s toys. Girls are allowed to play with dinosaurs, boys are allowed to play with dolls. Pearl and Sebastian are here to spread the message.
Price: £7.99 from Bookmarks
Raffi is a shy boy who doesn’t like noisy games and is often teased at school. But when he gets the idea of making a scarf for his dad’s birthday he is full of enthusiasm, even though the other children think it is girly to knit. Then the day draws near for the school pageant, and there is one big problem – no costume for the prince. And that’s when Raffi has his most brilliant idea of all – to make a prince’s cape. On the day of the pageant, Raffi’s cape is the star of the show. Recommended age 4 – 7.
£7.99 from Letterbox Library
Biff is not like ordinary dogs. He doesn’t do dog stuff like peeing on lampposts, scratching his fleas or drinking out of toilets. If you throw him a stick, he’ll just look at you like you’re crazy.
No, Biff is no ordinary dog. Biff likes music and moonlight and walking on his tiptoes. You see, Biff doesn’t think he’s a dog, Biff thinks he’s a ballerina, which is all very well… but dogs don’t do ballet – do they?
The hilarious story of a small dog with a big personality and even bigger dreams!
£6.99 from News From Nowhere
Main message: Men are nurturers that raise children. As Mr Seahorse’s eggs grow in his pouch, he drifts through the ocean meeting lots of other fathers who are looking after eggs or raising their babies. From the author of the best-selling The Very Hungry Caterpillar, this book is subtle in message and beautiful in appearance — it has transparent pages that make it look like you’re peering through the ocean ready to find the next under-water friend Mr Seahorse will encounter.
£9.99 from GenNeu
Bookish and peaceable dragon Franklin struggles to earn the trust of the local humans, but a young girl with a knack for independence of thought is willing to give him a chance, and the pair set out to start a bookshop.
£6.99 from Nickel Books
For more stereotype-free shopping, check out our Toymark directory of great inclusive retailers.