I took a visit to Waterstones to look at the children’s section of books and to be honest, I came out more optimistic than I was when I had arrived. There were the obvious and expected books where the books for boys addressed possible professions for when they grow up and in contrast, the books for girls were depressingly full of fashion and popstar aspirations. However, there were many books where important women were written about or girls were the protagonist of the adventure story. There were a couple of notable finds; David Walliams and how he addresses stereotypes with his books, for example, The Boy in a Dress and Billionaire Boy; A book written by a guy called Steven Lenton and he addressed the old-fashioned fairytale concept where the princess is helpless and waits on the prince to rescue her. He turns this on its head by showing the princess to be the hero and calling out dated gender expectations; and a book called Mama Can’t Raise No Man. This is a book for teenagers about how a young man comes to question the expectations surrounding masculinity.
I found a beautifully illustrated book that was simple in design and used only a small amount of colour. My only issue was how the colours were used to depict gender within the narrative. The male protagonist was rendered in blue and another in green, the females were pink and lemon. Again. No challenges here. Downstairs in the Christmas Buys display a row of slim books introducing these important women to children whilst underneath were presents for the fashion and aesthetic conscious… I guess it’s a start.