Monday, June 13, 2011

Character Bias in Children's Books

As my two daughters grew up, we visited the library once a week to pick out a pile of delightful children's books. Every night we sat on the couch, one eager reader on either side of me, as we enjoyed each adventure, fantasy, and escape for the imagination.

The latest issue of Gender and Society finds, however, that many of these books and other children's presentations are filled with gender bias.

"While parents themselves may be gender conscious, children's books as a whole are less so. Even Franklin the Turtle, Curious George and Peter Rabbit are part of the male character bias that shows no sign of litting up, a major new study of 5,600 children's books from 1900-2000 has found."

The problem with this bias is "it could further a sense that girl characters are less interesting than boy characters and lead girls themselves to feel less important."

The study included all the Caldecott award winning books (1938-2000), Little Golden Books (1942-1993), and the Children's Catalogue (1900-2000).

The researcher says she would like to see more young boys given books with female characters. "I think it would expose them to a range of different characters' experiences,.. and assist with their understanding of girls and women in real life."