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Equal opportunities issues seem so obvious today that we, as teachers, educators, childcare professionals, or parents, rarely bother to discuss them. However, gender and ethnic equity is not a reality in our society! A good observer will note that stereotypes still insidiously interfere in children's daily lives.

Indeed, young children hear here and there that boys are strong, violent and adventurous and that girls are fearful, sweet, conforming and emotional. Clich├ęs such as these affect children's perceptions, condition their beliefs, their behaviour and shape their self confidence in a more or less positive way.

There are of course differences between girls and boys, but educators must know how to deal constructively with those differences and convey the message that everyone has a place in this world and should have a chance to exploit his talent and potential regardless of gender or skin colour. This is a crucial challenge for a democratic society.

Many educational activities promote gender and ethnic equity. Our project team has chosen to focus on a specific educational situation that we believe offers many significant benefits to educators.

This situation is reading books to children.

Whereas some children's books are constructed around well-balanced male and female characters with distinctive personalities irrespective of gender or skin colour, many children's books still are full of stereotypes and picture gender in very restricted models.

Also, the supply of children's books on the market is huge. It is thus an interesting support to promote gender and ethnic equity and examine how stereotypes and sexism in picture books affect the development of gender identity.

We therefore think that working with children's books is a good bay to build constructive criticism and rethink gender and ethnic roles in ongoing process. Books can be used as catalysts for discussions on family and social standards, similarities, differences and friendships between boys and girls, traditional and non-traditional gender roles.

The Pages Toolkit is a training material that aims at showing you not only how to handle problematic books but also how to take active steps in ensuring the use of books that promote gender equity. In getting more control over the books you select and read, you will learn to recognize gender and ethnic stereotypical messages. Our team will show you how to support children's discussions and activities that explore issues such as: respect for yourself and other individuals, promote gender awareness and allow children to make self-empowering choices.
This is our ambition and we hope to share it with you!

Pages Toolkit

Download the Pages Toolkit (pdf) (English)

The Toolkit is also available in

Dutch - French - German - Italian (part I - part II) - Swedish