In this assignment, you will gather data from children’s books as a means of seeing (1) how early gender socialization begins and (2) how gendered images and stereotypes are perpetuated.
For this assignment, you are to find 2 children’s picture/illustrated books (you may use your own books, those bought from a store, viewed online, or borrowed from a library). One book should feature a female protagonist and the second a male protagonist. [Some popular children’s books feature animals and objects as the lead characters in the story. In those cases, the character usually has a gendered name or appearance, so use that as the indicator of gender and be sure to discuss your reasoning for assigning a gender to the character in your paper. Bonus points if you can find a book with an authentically gender-neutral protagonist.]
After you have selected and read each book carefully, address the following questions in 3-5 typed, double-spaced pages (12 point, Times New Roman font or the equivalent):
- How is the female character gendered?
- How is the male character gendered?
- Compare and contrast the gendering between the two protagonists?
- What activities do the stories imply that girls are interested in? Boys?
- Are there any gender stereotypes that are portrayed in these stories? If so, what are they?
- Do any of these characters conform to the active/passive dynamic that we have discussed
throughout the course?
Finally, comment on your feelings regarding the implications of this gendering in children’s books— What do these children’s books suggest about gender? Do these messages matter? Why or why not?