Children's books have an amazing ability to simplify complex issues like racism, sexism, and homophobia, and engage young readers in a way that daily conversations just can't. As much as parents and teachers work diligently to teach children about the varying experiences of others around them, the realm of reading still seems to have that extra something. Whether you share your love of literature with your child or they prefer to read on their own, there are several children's books that help kids understand what women are up against. Because, unfortunately, we live in a society where women are still dealing with sexism on the daily.
Gone are the days (mostly) when women's issues were only relevant to women. Now, many are seeing the importance of teaching young children, regardless of gender, about the disadvantages and uphill battles females face. Matters become even more complex when you consider the wide spectrum of womanhood. From women of color to transgender women, children can benefit from learning to understand what the world is like for females.
So if you're looking to start a dialogue, add some titles to your personal library, or reinforce an existing narrative on sexism, check out these children's books that help kids understand what women are up against.
1. 'Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World' by Jen Cullerton Johnson
The story of Wangari Maathai is beyond inspiring. An exception to the gender norm, Maathai attended school and used her knowledge to bring change to her country, the environment, and women's rights. Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World will undeniably impact your child's worldview and understand how life-changing education can be.
2. 'Julie Of Yhe Wolves' by Jean Craighead George
In the fictional tale, Julie of the Wolves, the title character leaves her husband at just 13-years-old and must survive the wild Alaskan climate. Beyond being an adventurous story about wilderness and exploration, this book takes a hard look at cultural dynamics and the value of following your own path.
3. 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' by Judy Blume
4. 'Little House On The Prairie' by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder reminds today's young readers of how different life was for women in pioneer times. Gender roles tended to be finite and absolute, yet many of the female characters in Wilder's series prove to just as tenacious and strong as any man.
5. 'Last Stop on Market Street' by Matt de la Peña
6. 'Red: A Crayon's Story' by Michael Hall
Perfect for younger children, Red: A Crayon's Story tells the heart-warming tale about a blue crayon who has been mislabeled as red. Teachers, family, and friends all try to help the crayon be red, but there's just no denying it's blue. A subtle and simple way to explain the struggles of transgender individuals and the societal pressures they face to conform, this book hits the mark.
7. 'The Paper Bag Princess' by Robert Munsch
8. 'Gracie For President' by Kelly S. DiPucchio
A timely tale, Gracie For President depicts all the obstacles the title character encounters on her endeavor to become the first female president in her school's election. Highlighting issues of discrimination and built-in disadvantages, this story offers great insight to how women are treated in politics.
9. 'For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart' by Elizabeth Rusch
Based on the real life sister of the arguably more well-known Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart shows how women were — and, to some extent, still are —expected to forgo personal ambitions in favor of traditional roles. While her brother was allowed to flourish in his music, Maria was told to give music up and focus on becoming a married woman. Still, she played piano, if only "for the love of music."
10. 'Rad American Women A-Z' by Kate Schatz
11. 'Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald No Combina' by Monica Brown
The upbeat story, Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match, tackles a decidedly difficult topic in an optimistic way. People judge Marisol because she is mixed race and thinks outside the box, but readers will be able to understand the stereotypes and standards women of combined cultures face.