Challenge Your Perspective- Open Your Mind with these Picture Books about Gender Roles!

Challenge Your Perspective: Open Your Mind with these Picture Books about Gender Roles!

Are you looking for picture books about gender roles, and challenge stereotypes? Look no further! In this post are some of the best picture books about gender roles that feature characters who break traditional gender norms and defy societal expectations. Let's dive in and discover some of the best picture books that shatter gender stereotypes and promote gender equality!

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Why Diversity in Children's Books Matters

In today’s changing world, it’s more important than ever to ensure children have access to books that reflect their world’s diversity, particularly regarding gender stereotypes.

A positive sense of identity helps children feel confident about themselves and be more open-minded when meeting others. Telling our students there are girls’ or boys’ things reinforces gender bias and what is right or wrong for them to do or like. 

Who are we to tell a girl she can’t play with a truck or dress like a warrior and that a boy can’t like dolls or sparkles?

Children establish gender stereotypes early, so we should counteract this with books that promote gender equality and the idea our students can do and aim for anything they want.

From the classic fairy tales of old to today’s picture books, the stories and characters found in picture books often influence our views of gender roles and stereotypes. 

Many authors are breaking the mould.

girls firefighting

Why Read Picture Books about Gender Roles and Stereotypes?

Picture books are a great way to explore important topics like gender roles and stereotypes in a fun and engaging way.

Picture books about gender roles provide opportunities for important classroom discussions about gender identity and sexism. These discussions help your students understand these complex issues better and become more informed and compassionate. Here are a few reasons you should consider adding picture books about gender to your classroom reading list:

Develops critical thinking skills: Picture books about gender roles and stereotypes get your students thinking critically. These books can challenge societal norms and expectations, prompting your students to question what they know and think more deeply about these issues.

Promotes inclusivity and diversity: Exposing your students to different gender roles helps promote diversity in your classroom. Picture books about gender introduce your students to different perspectives and encourage them to think about gender differently.

Fosters empathy and understanding: Reading picture books about gender helps your students develop empathy and understanding towards others with different experiences or identities. These books help your students see things from a different perspective and develop compassion for those who may be different from them.

Encourages self-reflection: Picture books about gender stereotypes and gender roles encourage self-reflection, prompting your students to think about their experiences and attitudes towards gender roles and stereotypes. This gets your students thinking about how they fit into the world around them and what they want for the future.

What You Will Find in These Picture Books about Gender Roles

If you’re looking for some books to challenge gender stereotypes in your classroom, you’re in luck! Here is a list of picture books that challenge gender norms and present characters who don’t conform to “normal” gender stereotypes. Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Characters who don’t fit into traditional gender stereotypes.
  • Positive role models who do what they want and don’t care about what others think.
  • Characters who are figuring out who they are and what they want.
  • Stories that challenge gender biases.
  • Characters who defy typical gender roles and characteristics.


When you give your students access to books about gender stereotypes and gender roles, you’re helping them develop empathy, confidence, and a positive appreciation for equality.

Questions to Pair with Picture Books About Gender Roles

  • What does the word ‘stereotypes’ mean?
  • What is gender stereotyping?
  • What is gender identity?
  • Where do you think gender stereotypes come from?
  • Why do you think gender stereotyping exists?
  • Have you come across gender stereotypes in books you have read? What examples can you think of?
  • What female gender stereotypes can you think of?
  • What male gender stereotypes can you think of?
  • How do you think gender stereotypes in books affect the reader?
  • Do you think male and female characters are treated similarly? For example, could [character] have been male or female? Explain your answer.

Children’s Books about Gender Roles and Stereotypes

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Ada Twist scientific curiosity propels her to question, hypothesize, experiment, and unravel the world’s mysteries, including one close to home. Ada Twist, Scientist fuels discussions around the power of curiosity, the spirit of inquiry, the pursuit of knowledge, and the importance of creative thinking.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Amazing Grace is about a book-loving young girl who dreams big and defies gender roles. Despite being told she can’t play Peter Pan in the school play because she’s a girl, Grace, backed by her mama and Nana’s unwavering support, auditions and wins the role, breaking stereotypes.

The story of Grace encourages discussions on self-esteem, adaptability, determination, fairness, gender roles, and the significance of making personal connections.

Baking with Dad by Aurora Cacciapuoti

A father and his daughter embark on a fun-filled baking adventure. They gather the ingredients, mix the batter, and decorate a cake to prepare for a surprise birthday party. The anticipation builds as we wait to see who the surprise is for.

Baking with Dad isn’t just about making a cake; it’s about the shared experience, teamwork, and the joy of preparing a surprise for someone special.

Beatrix Potter's Countryside by Linda Elovitz Marshall

Beatrix Potter’s beloved Peter Rabbit books captivated generations of children and enabled her to make an incredible contribution to the preservation of the Lake District in England. With the profits from her book sales, Potter purchased 4,000 acres of countryside, which she dedicated to the National Trust. Today, the beautiful landscape remains largely unspoiled, thanks to Potter’s determination to protect the area and her generous donation. 

The Bluest of Blues by Fiona Robinson

Anna Atkins was a pioneering British botanist and photographer who left an indelible mark on the world of science and art as the first person ever to publish a book using photography. Raised by her father to be a scientist, Anna’s interest in botany was complemented by her fascination with the emerging field of photography. Her resulting cyanotype photographs of plants were collated and published as Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843.

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy

A Boy Like You encourages boys to celebrate their uniqueness, exhibit kindness and fairness, and value emotional intelligence. It encourages boys to stay true to themselves, understand their emotions, exhibit resilience, and use their strengths to support others.

A Boy Like You highlights instances where boys can make a difference, such as standing up against bullying or expressing their emotions openly. It inspires them to be whoever they wish as long as they remain kind, honest, and authentic.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz

Starting school can be a daunting experience, and Zimdalamashkermishkada’s lengthy name becomes a point of self-consciousness. Choosing to go by the shorter “Zim” isn’t quite right. Thanks to his mother’s wisdom, he learns to embrace his name, ultimately accepting himself for who he is.

The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name encourages conversations on appreciating our uniqueness, understanding and owning who we are and building confidence in ourselves.

Dorothea's Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth by Barb Rosenstock

Dorothea Lange’s struggles with childhood polio could have been a limitation – but instead, it sparked her curiosity and observational skills, leading her to pursue her passion for photography. Best known for her powerful images capturing the plight of the forgotten victims of the Great Depression, Lange’s story allows discussions on overcoming adversity, gender roles, prejudice, curiosity, perseverance, empathy, and poverty.

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle

Inspired by Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a girl who shattered Cuba’s taboo against female drummers, this story portrays a young girl devoted to drumming. Despite societal prohibition, she practices, remaining steadfast in her passion. Her diligence attracts attention, causing people to join her in dance and song.

Drum Dream Girl underscores the significance of challenging societal norms, staying true to oneself, and the power of dreams and determination. The book inspires discussions on courage, determination, and gender equality.

Drummer Girl by Hiba Masood

Najma lives in a Turkish village and dreams of becoming a musaharati, a drummer who wakes families for the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan. Traditionally taken on by men, Najma is determined to fulfil her dream and show her community that she can take on this important role. 

Drummer Girl inspires discussions about overcoming barriers, challenging gender stereotypes, courage, determination, self-belief, and pursuing one’s dreams.

Elena's Serenade by Campbell Geeslin

Elena dreams of becoming a glassblower like her father, but it is seen as a male profession. Unfazed, Elena disguises herself as a boy and travels to Monterrey to become an apprentice in its glass factories. She creates an impressive glass bird that astounds everyone, including her father. 

Elena’s Serenade celebrates resilience, courage, and challenging societal norms. The book encourages children to challenge gender stereotypes, promotes persistence, and emphasises the importance of following dreams.

Emmeline Pankhurst by Lisbeth Kaiser

Emmeline Pankhurst was a devoted activist who fought for women’s equality, particularly the right to vote. She led the suffragette movement, organising protests, delivering speeches, and enduring imprisonment for the cause.

This book introduces the history of the women’s rights movement and Pankhurst’s role in it. It highlights activism, courage, determination, and standing up for one’s belief and encourages discussions about gender equality, social justice, and the influence of individual actions on change.