10 Children's Picture Books that Shatter Parental Gender Stereotypes

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Photo by: Candlewick
"Oscar's Half Birthday" by Bob Graham (2005)
In this gentle, unique tale of a family celebrating little Oscar's half birthday, dad (along with mom) wears his hair in braids, makes the tuna sandwiches for their picnic, and generally comes across as a nurturing soul.

In what is a woefully old story to anyone with a small child, a new study has concluded that parental gender roles in children's picture books are mired in mommy-cooks-and-cleans, daddy-works-and-hammers traditions, with no great advances made between 1900 and 2000. That's right folks: No huge change in an entire century. Shepherd University sociologist Amy DeWitt led the study, which analyzed a random sampling of 300 picture books from the stretch of time, and noted, "By examining the father and mother role performances independently over time it was expected that some progression toward egalitarianism would be noted." Sadly, with few exceptions, that wasn't the case, with findings "suggesting that the traditional male breadwinner-female homemaker model has been consistently portrayed in children's picture books." There is some hope, though, thanks to authors from Mo Willems to Patricia Lakin. Here are 10 books for young readers that blessedly toss old-school mom-dad roles out the window.--Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff