Children are very impressionable when it comes to stereotyping and gender roles. Starting at a young age, children have strong opinions about what colors boys and girls should like, the sports they should play and the clothes they should wear. We can break down theses stereotypes by introducing children to situations and ideas that oppose such stereotypical views.
The book, “Ballerino Nate," by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a story about a young boy who wants to be a ballerina. He falls in love with dancing after watching a performance with his school. His brother, a baseball player, tells him that boys can not be dancers. Nate disagrees with him, but becomes worried that his brother is right. As a gift, Nate’s mother takes him to a ballet and he sees male dancers on the stage. After the show, he talks to one of the male dancers who tells him that men can dance too.
This book is great because it breaks down the barrier that girls and boys can not do the same things. Before reading this book to a group of children, I always ask, “Can boys be dancers?" I usually get more no’s than yes’. After reading the story, ask the question again. It is interesting to hear the children’s opinions about this topic.
Another effective book is, “And Tango makes Three," by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. This is the true story of penguins Roy and Silo who live in Central Park in New York City. Roy and Silo are both male penguins and they are in love. The two penguins are interested in having a baby like the rest of the penguins and start to sit on and keep a rock warm, just as the other penguins sit on their eggs. When the zookeeper sees this, he gives the two an egg that was left behind by another penguin couple. From this, the two have baby Silo. This book is an amazing tale that really opens the eyes of all of those who read it.
Books are a great way to help children to understand ideas about our world. These two books in particular help children to understand two difficult concepts.