Diversity and equality

Thematic route edited by Anilij Research Centre – University of Vigo (Spain) and MeTRa Centre, University of Bologna (Italy)


We are all different, and yet we are all equal. We can be different in terms of sex, gender, sexual orientations, class, ethnicity, religion, culture, education, language, etc.  But we are all human, and although we should all have the same rights, unfortunately not everyone can enjoy them. In many regions of the world people see their rights violated or denied. However, in recent times some progress has been made with regard to the respect of diversity and the promotion of equality.

Equality – granting non-discrimination in treatment, status, rights, and opportunities –also means supporting people and treating them in such a way that they can have the same chances in life and access to resources. Therefore, everyone should be recognised, valued, and respected. Even though laws have been passed to grant equality among people, this formal recognition does not always guarantee a substantial respect of people’s rights.

Social, religious, and gender inequalities are deeply rooted in most cultures and societies, and thus difficult to overcome. In this context, in an attempt to meet the ongoing social and cultural changes, children’s books have recently tried to offer younger readers stories that focus on equality and respect, and that fight against several forms of discrimination, such as homophobia (Mi papá es un payaso), transphobia (George; Mon frère, ma princesse), and gender stereotypes (Mademoiselle Zazie; La déclaration des droits des filles; La déclaration des droits des garçons; Quante tante donne). Such a trend within children’s literature has often encountered strong societal opposition, thus showing even more to what extent these socially engaged books are needed. In fact, children’s literature can be very important in countering gender stereotypes and discrimination, violence, and other forms of prejudice (sexual, cultural, religious, ethnic, etc.) that have major consequences in our society, even in economic terms.

Children’s literature can therefore help promote respect for diversity and its acceptance, inclusion, and non-discrimination. By using simple, clear, and direct language, the books included in this bibliography can show children the complex and multi-faceted concept of diversity, while also emphasising that differences can enrich society and are a resource, and that they are not a limitation. For example, in the case of gender issues, books can help validate the experiences of children who have a non-conforming gender identity, showing the importance of accepting and respecting differences (Nei panni di Zaff ; Buffalo Belle; Jacob’s new dress; Mehdi met du rouge à lèvres; ¿Qué es lo que quieren las mujeres?; Vrline mane). Moreover, these stories can teach everyone that we should all be free to express and to affirm our identities, thus also sending a message against bullying – be it gender-based or not (My princess boy; Felix’s new skirt; The sissy duckling; A boy named Queen; Federico il pazzo; Adesso scappa; Jane, le renard & moi; Max embête les filles; Oliver Button is a sissy; Cloud busting).

Books that have an intersectional approach (focusing on gender and ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, etc.) can show the importance of promoting interaction and collaboration among people of different backgrounds and identities. This may help to raise children’s awareness on the differences and inequalities that still exist across cultures and societies. For example, some books show the harsh living conditions experienced by girls and boys in disadvantaged parts of the world (Malala/Iqbal; La fille du pays des neiges; Io sono Adila), as well as the discrimination which persists in Western cultures and societies (Questa non è una baby-sitter; Prestami le ali; Ruby tête haute). Some texts also explain how women have gained rights that had long been denied to them (Nina e i diritti delle donne), and how they came to work in fields that were previously considered male-only areas (Mercedes quiere ser bombera; Marie Curie). These kinds of texts also inspire children to develop understanding equality, while valuing many aspects of diversity, like transgenderism (Trans bird; Yo soy Mia ; 10,000 dresses; I am Jazz; Introducing Teddy), homosexuality (Simón el topo; Cola de sirena), disabilities (Il mondo è anche di Tobias; Mia sorella è un quadrifoglio), and intercultural dialogue (Писма от Феликс за пътуването с цирка / Letters from Felix; The colors of the rainbow).

A good children’s book can represent a great aid for addressing the topics of equality and diversity, showing young readers that we are all equal and have the same rights.


Some outstanding books on gender equality and diversity:

Álvarez García, Luz, Pero, ¿qué es lo que quieren las mujeres? Everest, León, 2007.

Andrés, José Carlos, Mi papá es un payaso. NubeOcho, Madrid, 2015.

Bachelet, Gilles, Madame le Lapin blanc. Seuil jeunesse, Paris, 2012.

Barbé i Serra, Alba, Cola de sirena. Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2016.

Blackman, Malorie, Cloud busting. Corgi Yearling Books, London, 2005.

Brami, Élisabeth, La déclaration des droits des filles. Talents Hauts, Paris, 2014.

Brami, Élisabeth, La déclaration des droits des garçons. Talents Hauts, Paris, 2014.

Brami, Elisabeth, Le zizi des mots. Talents Hauts, Vincennes, 2015.

Brichzin, Kerstin, Felix’s new skirt. Minedition, Hong Kong, 2018.

Britt, Fanny, Jane, le renard & moi. Editions de la Pastèques, Montréal, 2013.

Capdevila, Paco, Azul y rosa. Gaviota, Madrid, 2000.

Casalderrey, Fina, ¡Hola, estúpido monstruo peludo! Algar libros, Alzira, 2009.

Cassidy, Sara, A boy named Queen. Groundwood Books, Toronto, 2016.

Cohen-Janca, Irène. Ruby tête haute. Les éditions des éléphants, Paris, 2017.

Crowther, Kitty, Poka et Mine: le football. L’école des loisirs, Paris, 2010.

Čulina, Arijana, Vrline mane Mare bubamare. V.B.Z, Zagreb, 2013.

D’Elia, Cecilia, Nina e i diritti delle donne. Sinnos, Roma, 2011.

De Manuel Vicente, Carmen, Simón el topo. Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2011.

De Paola, Tomie, Oliver Button is a sissy. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2017.

Degl’Innocenti, Fulvia, Io sono Adila. Storia illustrata di Malala Yousafzai. Settenove, Cagi, 2015.

Donoso Bailón, José Ignacio, Trans bird. Ópera Prima, Madrid, 2015.

Douzou, Olivier, Buffalo Belle. Rouergue, Rodez, 2016.

Dumortier, David, Mehdi met du rouge à lèvres. Cheyne, Devesset, 2006.

Ewert, Marcus, 10,000 dresses. Triangle Square, New York, 2008.

Fierstein, Harvey, The sissy duckling. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2002.

Fine, Anne, Bill’s new frock. Egmont UK, London, 2017.

Fritze Spagnoli, Elena, Il mondo è anche di Tobias. Lapis, Roma, 2009.

Gallego, Laura, Las chicas somos guerreras. Planeta, Barcelona, 2010.

García, Nerea, Yo soy Mia. Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2016.

Gino, Álex, George. Scholastic, New York, 2017.

Herthel, Jessica, I am Jazz. Dial Books, New York, 2014.

Hoffman, Sarah, Jacob’s new dress. Albert Whitman & Co., Park Ridge, 2014.

Juanolo, ¡Nos gustamos! Scena Edicions, Barcelona, 2004.

Kilodavis, Cheryl, My princess boy; a mom’s story about a young boy who loves to dress up. KD Talent LLC, Seattle, 2009.

Kuruvilla, Gabriella, Questa non è una baby-sitter. Terre di Milano, Milano, 2010.

Lenain, Thierry, Mademoiselle Zazie et la robe de Max. Nathan, Paris, 2011.

López Salamero, Lunila, La cenicienta que no quería comer perdices. Planeta, Barcelona, 2009.

Maar, Paul, Los viajes de Paula. Takatuka, Barcelona, 2009.

Masini, Beatrice, Mia sorella è un quadrifoglio. Carthusia, Milano, 2012.

Moncó Rebollo, Beatriz, Mercedes quiere ser bombera. Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2004.

Pennart, Geoffroy de, La princesse, le dragon et le chevalier intrépide. L’école des loisirs, Paris, 2013.

Ramadier, Cédric, Attention aux princesses ! Albin Michel jeunesse, Paris, 2013.

Rinaldi, Patrizia, Adesso scappa. Sinnos, Roma, 2014.

Rinaldi, Patrizia, Federico il pazzo. Sinnos, Roma, 2014.

Saint-Mars, Dominique (de), Max embête les filles. Calligram, Coppet, 2000.

Salvi, Manuela, Nei panni di Zaff. Fatatrac, Firenze, 2015.

Sánchez Vergara, María Isabel, Marie Curie. Alba, Barcelona, 2016.

Sarfatti, Anna, Quante tante donne: le pari opportunità spiegate ai bambini. Mondadori, Milano, 2008.

Scego, Igiaba, Prestami le ali. Storia di Clara la rinoceronte. Rrose Sélavy, Tolentino, 2017.

Walton, Jessica, Introducing Teddy: a gentle story about gender and friendship. Bloomsbury U.S.A. Childrens, New York, 2016.

Winter, Jeanette, Malala, a brave girl from Pakistan / Iqbal, a brave boy from Pakistan. Beach Lane Books, San Diego, 2014.

Zambon, Catherine, Mon frère, ma princesse. L’école des loisirs, Paris, 2012.

Zhihong, He, La fille du pays des neiges. Seuil jeunesse, Paris, 2013.

Ланген, Анете (Langen, Annette) Писма от Феликс за пътуването с цирка (Letters from Felix about circus travel). Фют, София, 2015.