Book

Did you know we are writing a book?

Watch this space for updates on what we hope will be a practical guide or handbook for anyone who wishes to understand why it’s important to tackle gender stereotypes in the early years and how we can do it!

In the meantime see below for our book recommendations!

Books about Gender Stereotyping

The Gender Agenda by Ros Ball and James Millar (useful account of two parents experiences of how their kids are stereotyped or exposed to messages about gender as they grow up)

Man Up by Rebecca Asher is a particularly good book for learning more about how adults unconsciously interact differently with boys and girls, as well as loads of other useful stuff.

The Gendered Brain – Gina Rippon – discusses recent research busting the myth of male brains and female brains.

For great ideas on how to have health conversations about bodies, eating and exercise check out Body Happy Kids by Molly Forbes 

Some of our favourite books for the early years (that we’ve actually read!)

Good practice around gender stereotyping does not necessarily mean throwing out every book which contains a gender stereotype or an absence of female characters.  We like to think that even the most stereotypical books and stories can be used in ways to provoke conversation and challenge with the children – though there may be one or two that might be best off in the bin!

Even so, when looking to purchase new resources, it’s worth considering some of the great stories that are out there which challenge some of those all pervasive stereotypes.  We have included some of our favourites below – and there are many more that we have not included simply because we haven’t read them yet, so there’s a list of places where you might find other suggestions at the end.  With each book we have also tried to provide and explanation of why we like it and where relevant some thoughts and suggestions about the books can be used to initiate conversations with the children.

Happy reading!

Sophia Sparks – A Little Inventor with Incredible Ideas! By Elanor Best

A great story which follows our female inventor protagonist as she learns about problem solving, team work and the power of her own ideas. A great one for encouraging young girls in particular to believe in their capabilities around creativity and STEM.

Zog and the Flying Doctors. By Julie Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Go on an adventure with Doctor (princess) Pearl as she helps a variety of sickly creatures and changes perceptions about what Princesses can do.  Part way through the story Pearl is “captured” by her Uncle, the King, who tells her that “Princesses can’t be doctors!” – but she proves him wrong. There’s a chance here to explore with the children why he may think that way and how it makes Pearl feel to be told she can’t do the things she loves just because she is a princess. 

The Lion Inside. By Rachel Bright & Jim Field

We love this story!  While both the characters are male (that’s easily fixed!) the lesson here is that even the littlest people can be brave and the biggest fiercest people can be scared. A good one for the young moral rebels!

The Worst Princess. By Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie

The story of a princess waiting for her prince who finds out that the reality is not all it’s cracked up to be, so forges her own path with the help of a friendly dragon.

Giraffes Can’t Dance. By Giles Adrea & Guy Parker-Rees.


A classic tale about the animal (in this case a giraffe) who doesn’t quite fit in.  We like any story which teaches children that it’s ok to be different, to stand out from the crowd and be proud of who you are.  Given that the protagonist in the story is a giraffe there are opportunities here to have conversations about different bodies and abilities and how we can embrace the body we have.

The Detective Dog. By Julia Donaldson & Sara Ogilvie.

This one is a gem! The story of the wonderful detective dog Nell who loves the smell of books, who solves the mystery of the disappearing books.  A great story for fostering a love of books, reading and libraries!

The Knight Who Said No. By Lucy Rowland and Kate Hindley.

An interesting story about a little boy dealing with frustration and anger, who befriends a dragon and find a bit of balance. 

The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water. By Gemma Merino.

Another story about not fitting in and finding your tribe – there’s a theme here!  This time it’s a crocodile.  Another male protagonist, but this can be easily changed!

Why Do I Feel Scared? A first look at being brave. By Pat Thomas

At Gender Friendly Scotland we believe that teaching children to speak out and speak up is an important part of creating culture change, and this little book goes into some of these themes as it explores what it feels like to be brave.  We like how it frames bravery as more than being an action hero. It contains some useful discussion questions for use with the children, and the pictures are bright, interesting and most importantly diverse.

The Start of Something Big. By Annahita De La Mare and Jennifer Kirkham.

Maybe one for the older children, but a lovely story of three adventurous young girls taking to the skies in a hot air balloon.

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