Title: Pink, Blue, And You! Questions for Kids about Gender Stereotypes
Author & Illustrator: Elise Gravel
With: Mykaell Blais
Publisher: Random House, 2022
Themes: gender stereotypes, gender identity, pronouns, lgbtqia+, transgender,
s it okay for boys to cry? Can girls be strong? Should girls and boys be given different toys to play with and different clothes to wear? Should we all feel free to love whoever we choose to love? In this incredibly kid-friendly and easy-to-grasp picture book, author-illustrator Elise Gravel and transgender collaborator Mykaell Blais raise these questions and others relating to gender roles, acceptance, and stereotyping.
With its simple language, colorful illustrations, engaging backmatter that showcases how appropriate male and female fashion has changed through history, and even a poster kids can hang on their wall, here is the ideal tool to help in conversations about a multi-layered and important topic.
Why I like this book:
If you’re looking for a book that will help you start a conversation about gender stereotypes with children, this would be a good place to start. The book covers topics such as gender identity, pronouns, equality in reference to men and women as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Gravel offers simple definitions for the terms related to these topics that would help educate younger children. Some questions are open-ended while others are more specific. Questions include things such as:
Do you know anyone who followed their dreams?
Do you think everyone should be allowed to cry, play with dolls, and play sports if they feel like it?
Should we feel bad about doing the things we like?
How we feel inside is called our gender identity. How would you describe your gender?
The diversity represented in the bright illustrations includes different family types, race, lgbtq+, religion, and disability (wheelchair). There is also one double-paged spread that shows simple illustrations of the bodies of children in regard to sex and gender identity, that could be great for discussion with maybe individual children or small groups, maybe not so much a large group as to facilitate enough of a discussion with individuals, but I am glad that Gravel didn’t shy away from this.
The narrative makes it clear that being labeled a boy or a girl or a male or a female isn’t the whole picture. The idea of gender identity is handled delicately but honestly with various youngsters expressing how they feel, followed by a discussion of the proper use of pronouns related to gender identity. There’s also a brief discussion of laws that prohibited same-sex marriage and other expectations as to the type of jobs men and women were expected to have and the ones that somehow seemed off-limits. Snippets about individuals who pushed against those barriers are included as well as a “Fun Facts” section about gender and clothing that might hold some surprises for some readers.
This book represents a helpful place to begin conversations about gender and possibly foster a world where it’s possible to embrace whatever identity with which we feel comfortable and just be ourselves, as the last page urges. Parents, caregivers, and teachers will surely be relieved at having such a text to aid them in answering questions about gender that their own young charges may ask
Suggested organizations for additional information:
A Mighty Girl
Let Toys be Toys
Trans Youth Equality Foundation
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
I like how the author and illustrator address this topic, specifically by starting the conversation with questions. A perfect place to start. Great pick, Joanna!