Sharing books about strong women and girls

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Did you know that one Australian study found that more children's books had no main character than a female one? International Women's Day is celebrated every year on 8 March, and this year we're encouraging you to share stories with your little one that feature strong female characters.

A growing sense of identity and belonging 

It’s important that families share stories with children that feature diverse characters and communities. When children experience books that mirror their life it helps build their sense of self, identity and community connectedness. Seeing yourself represented in picture books builds confidence in children in those important early years when they’re soaking in how the world works.   

Inspire the next generation by sharing stories about strong independent women and girls. 

Sharing stories about strong independent women and girls can help your child to see that no trait or interest is restricted by gender.

Strong female characters 

Do you have books at home that feature strong female characters? It might be worth double-checking, because research has suggested that in many picture books, female characters simply don't exist at all. In fact, one study showed that of the top 100 Australian picture books published in 2017, it was more common for a book to have no lead character at all than to have a female lead character.  

Even when there are female characters, unfortunately they might not be shown in a lot of different ways. A 2019 study noticed that most picture books available in Australia have female characters that are stereotyped. They showed female characters only in traditional “female” jobs, interests or roles like being ballerinas or shopping for clothes, while the male characters were shown in lots of different roles from farmers and chefs to zookeepers and scientists.  

Given what we know about books helping to support a child’s understanding of the world and themselves, it’s important that all children see that no trait or interest is restricted by gender. Girls can love ballerinas AND want to be a builder! 

The stories you share with your little ones can be part of the solution in striving for a gender equal world.

About International Women’s Day 

International Women’s Day is a day where many countries acknowledge the barriers and achievements of women regardless of linguistic, cultural, economic or political differences. This year’s theme focuses on #choosetochallenge and asks the question: how will you help forge a gender equal world?   

The stories you choose to share with your little ones can be part of the solution. After all, don’t all parents want a world where our children have the potential to achieve anything and where can girls see themselves in our stories and feel inspired to know that they can do anything? 

Picture books with strong female characters 

Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day by sharing books where the girls are amazing and everyone can enjoy the story! Here are some suggestions for books to share with your little one:

Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 

Willows Whispers by Lana Button  

Princess Smarty Pants by Babette Cole 

Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch 

Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz 

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