6 months ago
Or what should be depicted in modern children’s books
My little boy was asking me to please prepare him dinner one day. I responded why did he ask me to prepare the dinner, as we were all sitting together in the living room, which meant any of us – myself or my husband - could have prepared the dinner.
A part of me was hoping for an answer like „Because your meals are so delicious, and your cooking skills are top-notch! “. Another part of me was feeling my hair standing on end already. Are we having a stereotyping-challenge to overcome here with our toddler?
Our little boy assigned preparing the family meals to me and not to his father.
In one go, our conscious toddler then started to enumerate all his day nursery supervisors, who are preparing the meals: well, he is right. They are all female. That is a fact. In the next step he directed his focus to some children's books we are reading... And what can I say? Nothing. Again, he was right. In most of his storybooks, a female parent oversees the family feeding.
How are children books presenting the roles of parents in educating and raising their children
I had to start somewhere, so I started with our children books at home, I went through kids’ books in stores, I browsed the children books collections in the libraries. I then started researching children's books online. The representation of parental attributes, tasks and their form of appearance is – for the most part – not in line with the ideas I want to pass on to my little boy.
In many cases, a female parent is taking care – of the children, of the household, of making sure the family rules are respected. In many children's books, the female parent is the nurturer, expressing all kinds of emotions. Is this something negative? No, it is not. What I criticize is the missing of role diversity in presenting female parents in picture books and the imbalance when it comes to the presentation of a male parent. Female parents, for example, are playing a role in most children's storybook pages compared to male parents. Yes, I have the impression that fathers are under-represented. And in addition to that, I have the impression that caring and nurturing fathers are significantly under-represented. No matter how they are called in the family, partner, daddy or papa, they deserve better.
Children books: what we are reading to babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers equal to the planting of long term seeds
Our children are impacted at early ages in a big way by the storybooks they are being read or they are reading. Therefore, the way parents are presented in children's storybooks plays an important role in gender upbringing. In my case, the parenting roles described in children books with the mother preparing the meals had a direct impact on my little one’s expectation at home.
I realize that we are dealing with a topic of different generations, different ages, and a different era education topic. Children picture books from other eras might depict stereotypes as it was not a matter of concern those days. It wasn’t a point of discussion and what I perceive as heavy stereotyping was a natural part of a good-old story.
On my part, I will check out the stories of children's books and the message they send a bit more wilfully. I am still reading some classic children's books with my little boy, but I will attach a special value to deeper discussions. In the future, I will start a talk about another mother cooking in a children’s picture book and see where this takes us.
And on top of that, I will make sure that CUKIBO personalized kids’ books will always consider what I’ve been writing about here.
Aren’t there any anyway multiple successful ways of parenting out there nowadays? A man as a father and a woman as a mother is only one way – both working outside the home in many cases. On this topic, let me salute all single fathers and all single mothers out there, who are rarely even considered inside children’s books. Or you, wonderful same-gender couples, raising children with love and affection.
We hear you. Let’s challenge parental stereotypes. We create personalized children books, which match all structures. So proud of that.