Gender Friendly Gifts for Wee Ones
A guide for last-minute, Christmas-tired, parents and family
It’s that time of year when parents can be swamped by pink and blue presents. As the mother of a wee three years old boy (who’s birthday also happens to be Christmas day) who loves pink and rainbows, getting barraged with angry toy cars and action men can be tiresome.
That’s why my colleague Nikki and I have put our brains together to develop the below list of cheery, gender-friendly gift ideas. These options avoid perpetuating tired gender stereotypes and allow our wee ones to explore and play.
The lively and engaging ‘Radical Colouring Books’ by Jacinta Bunnell challenge gender and other norms with titles such as ‘Girls will be boys will be girls’ and ‘Sometimes the spoon runs away with another spoon’. See more at www.girlsnotchicks.com or go to her shop at www.etsy.com (search for Jacinta Bunnell).
The Daddy Book by Todd Parr Age (0-5) Celebrates different kinds of fathers and shows men in caring roles.
The Name Jar by Yansook Choi Age 4-8 Unhei has just moved to America, but she is worried about whether the students in the class will like her so she chooses a series of new names from a jar. When one of her new friends visits her neighborhood and finds out the special meaning of her name, Unhei gets the support she needs to be herself.
Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen. Billy is a unique character who has big curly hair, which contains different useful objects like doughnuts and crayons – a modern day Mary Poppins, if you will. This story of Billy’s problem solving and ability to utilise the tools contained in her hair are a reminder for children that everyone can change our environment and stand up for others.
Mummy, Mama and Me by Leslea Newman. Families don’t always have to be made up of heterosexual parents. This is a book where children can learn that not all families are heterosexual and same-sex parents are equally as normal, and children within these families are also treated the same as they would with heterosexual parents.
Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? By Sarah Savage. Are you tired of seeing girls in pink and boys in blue? This book challenges this and explores gender creatively and with confidence. It takes an interesting perspective and allows exploration of all types of gender expression, and enables parents and children to deconstruct gender stereotyping.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson Age 4-8 Roy and Silo are just like the other penguin couples at the zoo - they bow to each other, walk together and swim together. But Roy and Silo are a little bit different – they are both boys. Lovely tale based on a real life story
Go Go Sports Dolls promote self-appreciation and the benefits of daily exercise, healthy eating and sleeping habits, self-esteem and overall healthy life-skills for children aged 3.
Play-Doh, Lego, and Wooden block toys are all an excellent way to encourage your children to be creative and learn special awareness.
Orchard Toys makes various different board games aimed at a very young audience. They are not ‘gendered’ and often have black-minority ethnic characters too. Games included ‘Tummy Ache’, ‘Pop to the Shops’, ‘Dotty Dinosaurs’ and ‘The Magic Cauldron’.
Kites and other open-air toys encourage activity and exploration as well as helping kids understand nature and the outdoors which has been linked to creating good environmentalists!
My son’s favourite colours are pink and yellow. He insists on bright, rainbow like patterns whenever he can. Clothes which are unisex are hard to find and, generally, at the more expensive end of the market. This is a shame because it’s easier to pass such clothes on to younger siblings. But, if parents/carers are looking for ideas check out:
Heimoose unisex and brightly coloured clothing; site is divided into separate sections for boys and girls but many items are interchangeable
Tootsa unisex clothes - expensive but hard-wearing!
Polarn O. Pyret clothes that children can play in - brightly coloured clothing and lots of unisex styles
Pigtail Pals US-based company selling non-stereotyped clothing for girls and boys
If you have any other ideas of what to add to the list, we would love to hear them!
For now, from all of us at Zero Tolerance have yourself a wonderful gender equality Christmas!
Find out more about our work on gender equality in the early years here.