One of the many damaging messages shouted out by gendered marketing is that girls and boys engage in very different activities: play with different toys, read different books, do different sports, have different adventures. So, to pour water on that super-toxic message, our friends at Letterbox Library have compiled some suggestions of picture books which will tell boys and girls the truth about themselves – that they are more alike than different and that they can all play in the same camp!
Which picture books do you love which show girls and boys playing together and enjoying friendship and fun?
by Dan Crisp
Every toddler wants to be a little driver and now every toddler can!! A joyful little boardbook with a genius device which allows you to insert a cut out doll figure –with a boy on one side and a girl on the other – into a range of transport vehicles. Ages 1 to 4
by Karen Owen & ill. by Barroux
An adventure-fuelled girl and boy conjure up fantastic worlds, picturing themselves as dragons, astronauts and more… A magical rhyming celebration of make-believe, soaring imaginations and being yourself. Includes essential mask-making tips! Ages 3 to 5
by Jan Dobbins & ill. Laura Huliska-Beith
“1,2,3 it’s a famer’s life for me!” Well, I (this reviewer) always had a romantic hankering to be a farmer but feared I would only ever get to play at being farmer’s stay-indoors-baking wife. So, I hugged this book closely when it arrived through our doors. Girls, boys, men and women all play equally physically demanding roles on a day at the farm- from mucking out to raking up. Good to see one of the men doing some home baking too. (Includes a watch and sing along CD). Ages 3 to 6
by Julia Donaldson & ill. by David Roberts
A rip-roaring tale of fabulous nonsense, led by a jolly crew: Jack & Rose & Stu, seasoned seafarers who sail off to discover the flumflum tree on Bloyernose island. More fun stuff brought to you by former Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson (who previously brought you The Gruffalo). Ages 3 to 6
by Ian Whybrow & ill. by David Melling
Go, Team FD! A firm favourite on our shelves. Teddy and Ruby both don their hard hats, slip on their trainers, get in their diggers and set off on a fantastical flying adventure. Tiger cub rescue included. Ages 3 to 6
by Polly Peters & ill. by Jess Stockham
Surprise surprise, it’s pouring outside. An excellent excuse for 2 girls and a boy to let their imaginations soar with indoor props and oodles of creative play. See what a troop of budding explorers can do with a map, a cardboard box, mops and domestic whisks. Ages 4 to 7
by James Howe & ill. by Amy Walrod
A book which we import specially, this is the perfect story to share if you are worried about girl-only and boy-only clubs and games forming in the playground or at home. It’s a direct, heads on, challenge to this segregation but told rather brilliantly through the story of three soul mates, 1 girl (mouse) and 2 boy (mice). All three share mountaineering and sewer-sailing adventures until, one day, Horace and Morris declare that they are joining the ‘Mega-Mice No Girls Allowed’ clubhouse. But Dolores has something to say about that… Ages 4 to 7
Getting hold of these books
You can of course buy any of these books from Letterbox Library. In any case, please do consider supporting an indie retailer or your local bookshop. Small independent booksellers are only able to do the careful sourcing and selecting they do if you support them through your purchases.
Now… over to you: which are your favourite books for younger readers showing girls and boys together? Add a comment below, or tweet us @lettoysbetoys
They could be old friends from your own childhood who you’ve shared with the children you know, or new ones you’ve found buried underneath the superhero and princess books and just fighting for airspace – here’s your chance to set them free!