In her fascinating report, Peggy Albers, a professor of language and literacy education at Georgia State University, discusses research which suggests that children are more impacted by books in ways we hadn’t realized.
You can read her original report can be read in The Conversation
Why do boys like trucks and girls like princesses?
There are many reasons which affect a child’s preference for certain toys, colors and characters.
Albers tells us that these preferences are influenced by the books we give our young toddlers.
She explains that the stories children are exposed to strongly influence their cultural and gender roles.
They also influence their values, beliefs and attitudes, which in turn shape a child’s perception of what is normal and good.
We understand who we are from stories
She goes on to explain that stories, and the art of storytelling have always been part of all cultures past and present.
A child builds an understanding of who they are based on the stories they are read to from a very early age.
We know that characters help children understand bigger issues, and how one behave can have good or bad consequences on another person.
This is one of the reasons why authors use to using animals as characters in their books.
Animals do not come from a particular race or culture. They are male or female, but they are much more relatable than if the character was played by a boy or a girl.
Choosing books for your grandchildren in the future
Next time you are picking a book for your grandchildren to share, think about how the gender or class of the character may affect them.
More importantly, will the book highlight girls as just princesses or witches, or will give them a broader, deeper role?
And will it give your grandson the idea that his role is to drive a car, build something or run fast? Are there other aspects you would like your grandson to develop?