children's books about gender

Children’s Books to Open the Conversation on Gender

It’s never too early to talk about gender with children. The concept of gender (“I’m a boy, I’m a girl, etc.”) may be a bit tricky for younger ones to grasp as they’re just getting to know their own gender identity; however beginning the conversation about gender identity and expression and gender stereotypes is very important at any age.

We’ve rounded up a few great reads to help children begin to understand gender identity and gender expression to start the conversation around gender and gender identity.

I Am Jazz

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

By: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Recommended Age: 4 years +

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

Jacob’s New Dress

Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

By: Sarah Hoffman and Ian Hoffman

Recommended Age: 3 years +

Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear “girl” clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.

The Boy & The Bindi

The Boy and the Bindi by Vivek Shraya

By: Vivek Shraya

Recommended Age: 4 years +

In this beautiful children’s picture book by Vivek Shraya, author of the acclaimed God Loves Hair, a five-year-old boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by South Asian women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself.

Jamie Is Jamie: A Book About Being Yourself and Playing Your Way

Jamie is Jamie by Afsaneh Moradian

By: Afsaneh Mordian

Recommended Age: 3 years +

Jamie Is Jamie challenges gender stereotypes, shows readers that playing is fundamental to learning, and reinforces the idea that all children need the freedom to play unencumbered. A special section for teachers, parents, and caregivers provides tips on how to make children’s playtime learning time.

Julián Is a Mermaid

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

By: Jessica Love

Recommended Age: 3 years +

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

It Feels Good to Be Yourself

It Feels Good to Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn

By: Theresa Thorn

Recommended Age: 3 years +

Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither or somewhere in between. A straightforward exploration of gender identity, providing young readers and adults with the vocabulary to discuss the topic with sensitivity.

They, She, He Easy as ABC

They, She, He Easy as ABC by Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew Sg

By: Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew Sg

Recommended Age: 4 years +

Fast-paced rhyming keeps the flow of text upbeat and rhythmic, and naturally models how to use a wide range of pronouns. There’s no room for stereotypes on THIS dance floor with spirited imagery that keeps names, clothes, hair and behavior fresh and diverse. The combination creates a playful and effortless practice to expand ideas about gender while learning the alphabet and makes being inclusive as easy as A-B-C!

What other books are great for teaching gender identity? Let us know in the comments!

Kiah Price

Kiah Price is a Social Media Specialist at HiMama. Prior to HiMama she was an Early Childhood Educator in a preschool classroom in Toronto. She is the Jill of all trades at HiMama from dipping her toes in Sales, Customer Success, Operations, and Marketing! She enjoys sweating through spin classes, hot yoga, and biking along the waterfront trails in Toronto. She loves traveling and trying new foods and wines across the globe- 29 countries and counting!

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