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Sintesis 1

Gender nonconformity in childrens literature

The literary world is rich with various genres to suit everyones needs, and one of the
most widely read literature genres is childrens literature. According to Lynch-Brown and
Tomlinson (2005), childrens literature is good quality trade books for children from birth to
adolescence, covering topics of relevance and interests to children of those ages (cited in Chen,
p. 1). The topics relevant to childrens interests themselves range from adventure, friendship,
family, animals and many more. By reading childrens literature, young children can learn a lot
about these topics. That is only one thing, though, as they can also subconsciously learn and
internalize certain characteristics that appear on the books they read. In a way, this can be bad if
the kids only get to read about characters that meet societys expectations, in this case
expectations of their gender roles. For instance, they only read about boys going on adventures
or solving mysteries, and girls playing home or learning skills like knitting and cooking, making
those kids think there is no other way in which a child should behave. In fact, some adults do use
literature to pressure kids in order to behave in ways that are gender appropriate rather than
ways best suited to their personality (Singh, 1998, as cited in Peksen, p. 164). This view is
challenged by a number of writers who try to write gender-sensitive childrens literature. They
present characters that go beyond expectations and stereotypes, or gender nonconformists. Lester
(2002) defines a gender nonconformist as someone who adopts gendered traits that are
stereotypically associated with members of the opposite sex (p. 4). Choosing books that propose
gender nonconformity can be a good alternative to broaden childrens mind. Since parents and
teachers are usually the ones who pick reading materials for their children, they can start doing
that, as Bernice Cullinan says, Books can play a significant role in the life of the young child,
but the extent to which they do depends entirely upon adults (cited in Norton, 1987, p. 4).


Chen, Chi-Fen Emily. (n.d.). Definition of Children's Literature. Retrieved from

Lester, Tony. (2002). Gender Nonconformity, Race, and Sexuality. Madison: The University of
Wisconsin Press

Norton, Donna E. (1987). Through the Eyes of a Child: An Introduction to Childrens Literature.
Columbus, OH: Merrill Publishing Co.

Peksen, Seda. (n.d.). Childrens Literature as a Tool for Gender Appropriation. Retrieved from