A gender positive bibliography in terms of roles and models

The G-Book bibliography aims to promote gender positive children’s literature in terms of roles and models, a literature that is open-minded, plural, varied, free from stereotypes, and that encourages respect and diversity.

This bibliography is the result of the collaboration among the project partners. It was inspired by the following shared criteria:

  • A European and international bibliography: The bibliography contains books originally written in the partner languages, as well as translated books. In particular, we focused on identifying a core set of texts which are significant from the point of view of gender roles and models, and on finding their translations into the partner languages. The bibliography also includes books originally published in other languages: their records are available in English and/or in one of the partner languages.
  • Age range: 3-5, 6-10 years old. We chose these age ranges for two main reasons. First, because they are particularly crucial in the assimilation process of gender roles and representations. Second, because there are no established practices for a gender-sensitive and affective education of children at school.
  • Publishing period: We decided to select recent books, published in the last 20 years, still in print, and easily available. There are also some older texts, which are particularly significant but still in print.
  • Genres/text types: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry.
  • Aesthetic and literary criteria: To decide whether a book is interesting and beautiful from an aesthetic and literary point of view can be a difficult, delicate, and controversial task. This issue has long been debated in children’s literature, and it is not our intention to give a univocal answer or to act as “judges” of good taste in this field. On the contrary, we are very much aware that our choices are intentionally subjective, positioned, open to evolution, and that different people would have probably made different choices. In fact, the books in our bibliography are very different from each other in terms of literary, expressive, and aesthetic choices. We selected them not only for their positive representations of gender models, but also because we liked them as books. In fact, we think that they have their own dignity and that they can legitimately be part of an “ideal” library.
  • Gender identities, roles, and representations: It is not easy to define this criterion; however, our main objective was to find positive books from the point of view of gender issues, i.e., books that address gender issues explicitly and without stereotypes, offer multiple, alternative, non-conventional models and representations for girls and boys, emphasizing self-fulfilment, promoting inclusion, respect, and the valorisation of people’s diversity and uniqueness.

In particular, we tried to select books that present many different topics which are crucial for the education of girls and boys: families and (multiple) family models; LGBTQ+; school; careers; emotions and feelings; passions and hobbies; bodies; interculturalism; inclusion.

Finally, with regard to the debate that sees the contrast between an engaged literature – produced by independent and militant publishers often accused of not taking care of the aesthetic and literary aspects – and a less engaged literature that is produced by mainstream publishers, we decided to include books that represent both these realities, without preconceptions and preclusions.

The G-Book bibliography is an ongoing project: it is in continuous evolution, it does not claim to be complete, nor does it propose itself as a unique model of reference, assuming the right to decide univocally what is worthy or not from this point of view. On the contrary, we believe that a bibliography animated by the above-mentioned intentions should never be considered definitive and unique, but rather that it should evolve constantly, opening itself to proposals and suggestions from the publishing field, as well as from the world of culture and education.

However, we would like to stress once again the added value of this first European bibliography, which emphasises multilingualism and multiculturalism, as well as the translation and the circulation of books across borders. We believe in a united Europe and in a literature without borders, which is able to talk about and improve on the current situation, promoting values such as openness, respect, and appreciation of the diversity and uniqueness of all people. These are values to which girls and boys are sensitive by nature, but which must be taught and supported so that they can influence children’s awareness.