The gender balance is only just starting to be addressed in children's books. Historically, there have been waaaay more stories featuring lead male characters. One study showed over a century of gender bias in children's literature, while another test discovered that out of 5,000 children’s books, a quarter had no female characters, and less than 20 percent featured a woman with a job!
But things are changing, and this is good for all of us - not just our daughters. If we want our sons to grow up into men who respect women, then it's just as important for them to see and read about female characters who are equal to their male counterparts.
Here are ten of our favourite stories that encourage our girls and inspire our boys - and you can listen to most of them on our website or in our free app!
1. So She Did by Simi Genziuk
So She Did is the true story of Australian circus rider, May Wirth, who was born at a time when girls weren't encouraged to take risks. But May was determined! She trained hard and amazed crowds with her stunning acrobatic tricks - all from the back of a horse!
2. Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
This story is based on author Malala’s childhood which she spent growing up in Pakistan. In it, Malala wishes she had a magic pencil that could rewrite the world around her to make it better. The older she gets, the more she sees in the world that needs “fixing”. That’s when Malala realises that she doesn’t need a magic pencil - she can start prompting change all by herself. Written by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët.
3. The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears by Alastair Chisholm
This is a hilarious book where Dad tells his son, Jamie a story, but Jamie keeps interrupting with his own requests. Besides having the whole family in stitches, the stock-standard fairytale is flipped on its head in twists that you won't see coming! Written by Alastair Chisholm, illustrated by Jez Tuya. Check it out online or in the free Kinderling app.
4. Some Girls by Nelly Thomas
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a girl who likes tutus or a girl who likes trucks, Some Girls celebrates girls of all shapes, sizes, colours, nationalities and abilities. Make sure you check out Some Boys too!
Written by author, comedian and mum, Nelly Thomas, with vibrant illustrations by Sarah Dunk, this is a fun and inspiring read.
5. Crow and the Waterhole by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Sometimes our perception of ourselves can become skewed and when we look in the mirror, we can’t see our strengths. Join Crow on her journey of self-discovery in this important story for all kids.
Crow and the Waterhole is written and illustrated by Ambelin Kwaymullina, from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
6. Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros by Meg McKinlay
“Don’t you wish,” said the small rhinoceros, “that you could see the world?” Join the small rhinoceros on her adventures in this inspirational picture book about quiet determination and the thrill of new experiences and new places.
Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros was created by the award-winning duo, author Meg McKinlay and illustrator Leila Rudge.
7. My Mum is a Magician by Damon Young
Mums are incredible! Writer and philosopher, Damon Young, explores the magical arsenal of talents Mums employ every day! The whole family will love this joyful celebration of Mums, illustrated by Peter Carnavas.
8. Caterpillar and Butterfly by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Caterpillar and Butterfly is a beautiful journey of self-discovery and courage set in the Australian bush.
It’s written and illustrated by Ambelin Kwaymullina, an award-winning Aboriginal writer from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
9. Stories for Kids who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks
You've probably heard of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls - which is a fantastic book, featuring incredible women who have done amazing things! But in Stories for Kids who Dare to be Different, Ben Brooks has written about 100 women and men who are changing the world in awesome ways - people like Dr Seuss, Hua Mulan, Whoopi Goldberg, Bjork, Andy Warhol, Ellen Macarthur - and many more!
We have over 100 stories in our free Kinderling app, both tried and true classics, and newbies for fresh adventures. They're perfect for a school holiday afternoon, a long road trip, or just before bed after a jam-packed day. Download the free Kinderling app to listen anytime, anywhere.
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