I LOVE LOVE LOVE children’s books. Some of my favorite memories growing up include listening to stories before I went to bed, and reading books aloud to my Mom and Sister on road trips. When I was pregnant I could barely wait to start a library of our own and pass on my love of stories and children’s books to my son.
I began reading to C from the day he was born. We would sit in front of the fire, in his room, or on the couch looking at pictures and starting to formulate words and stories. Now we have days where it seems that he would be perfectly content to spend the entire day on my lap reading his books.
Recently I started to notice how many representations there are of mothers and their children in his books. As we read stories together I have become more and more aware of just how many books are about Moms and how frequently a 2nd parent is left out.
This got me thinking… so… tonight we pulled down all of his books. I wanted to look and see the percentage of mother figures that there are in his books as compared to father figures, or entire family units.
- Total # of children’s books we own: 77
- Total # of books that include a parent or family unit: 31
- Total # that represent only the Mother/Child relationship: 22 (71%)
- Total # that represent another parent or the entire family: 9 (29%)
While it wasn’t surprising to me that 71% of our stories, with some form of parental representation, are about the mother, I find myself wanting more diversity in our library.
I think that the maternal relationship is an amazing thing to celebrate and can attest to the beautiful bond that exists between a mother and her child. However I have also been so touched by the interactions that I observe between my spouse and our son. Seeing the relationship that they have is beautiful and I wish that we had more books that equally celebrated the strength and power of that bond.
When I think about gender equality, it is important to look at all representations of gender on both a macro and micro scale. Something as simple as the stories we read to our children can make an impact on the roles that they will one day feel the need to fulfill. I hope that we can diversify the books we share with our kids and find ways to show them, in the everyday stories we tell, many different representations of parental relationships and families. Stories in which fathers can be nurturers and deep and meaningful bonds can exist between both parents and their children.
Moving forward, I plan to be more discerning about the books I buy and authors I support. I am also eager to have an excuse this weekend head to the bookstore to see what I can find to diversify our reading material.