Gender of Children's Books and Toys

Red Retro Kitchen
Red Retro Kitchen

This kitchen set is a gender neutral kitchen set that makes a nice addition to any child's play area. My son has enjoyed this wooden kitchen set for over a year now and it still looks brand new.

The Giving Tree (Slipcased Mini Edition)
The Giving Tree (Slipcased Mini Edition)

I enjoyed this book as a child and still enjoy reading it to my little boys. It teaches about being selfless and how to love unconditionally.

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

This is a wonderful book about Christmas and believing in things that you can't always see. Much better than the movie!


Gender of Children's Books and Toys

Books written for kindergarten age children show definite gender roles portrayed through the actions of the characters of the stories. Nine out of ten books read in Barns and Noble had males as the main characters, two of these nine books had females as a secondary character, and one book out of the ten had a female as a main character with two male characters as her companions. In most of these books, the main, male character goes on an adventure that requires him to be both brave and courageous. In the “Polar Express” the boy goes on a trip to the North Pole in search of Santa Clause. The adventure to the North Pole makes him act courageously because he has to leave his house in the middle of night and go off to places unknown with people he does not know.

In the books in which there were a male and female character, the male character generally plays a more important role than that of the female. It is the job of the female to keep the male out of trouble and comforted. An example of a female character comforting a male character appears in “The Giving Tree.” In “The Giving Tree” there is a small boy and his companion, a female tree. The boy starts out swinging in the tree’s branches as a form of entertainment. As the boy matures, he takes more and more from the tree, starting with its branches to make a house and then finally its trunk to make a canoe. Each time the boy comes to the tree, the tree is happy to give its possessions to the boy. The last time the boy visits the tree, he is an old man. He asks one last request of the tree, and that is that he can just have a place to sit. The tree happily straightens up its stump and makes itself into a seat for the boy.

It is evident in children’s books that it is the job of the male character to be active and adventurous, where it is the duty of the female to be nurturing, generous and compassionate. The same can be found in the toys and displays of toys that are sold for children.

KB Toys is set up with a clear gender separation. One side of the store is decorated with vibrant colors such as blue, yellow, red, and orange, where the other side is decorated with pastel colors such as pink, purple and light yellow.

The pictures over the displays also show a difference in gender roles. Over the side that seemed to be designated for boys, there were pictures of boys shooting each other with fake guns, knocking over legos with action figures, and racing cars down tracks. On the other side of the store that seemed to be set up for girls, the pictures were far more relaxed. The girls in the pictures were playing house with dolls and kitchen sets, and dressed up as ballerinas and princesses.

An androgynous toy was the kitchen set. Both genders use this toy in different ways. The females tend to pretend to talk on the telephone and prepare meals for their family while the boys tend to order the girls to make them dinner and do the dishes.

It is clear that there are cultural differences in the genders displayed in toys and books that children read. The evolutionary advantages should not be over looked. It is advantageous to girls to pretend to be raising a family at young age because the females are mostly in charge of raising children. It is also advantageous to the male members of society to act more aggressively as children because they tend to be the ones fighting for jobs later on in life.

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