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"A Princess Boy-He's Still A Boy!" Using Picture Books to Open Discussions Around Gender with Young Children

by Katrina Bartow Jacobs and Jeff Suzik
March/April 2019
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Article Link: https://www.ccie.com/article/a-princess/5024647/

Sometimes you can, I’m not sure if anybody knows this, but I, um, but, um, this century there was a boy named Koli, and he wanted to be a girl, and he chose to be a girl; but in some ways, boys don’t want to be called girls, so that’s why we shouldn’t use that word unless they want to be called girls. – Lily , Age 5

In a scene common to early childhood educational settings, a group of kindergarteners sit clustered on the rug in front of an adult reading. But these particular children are participating in a special kind of read-aloud, one with a unique and direct purpose. These children are engaging in a unit of study that focuses on helping them think about gender and talk about gender in more inclusive, equitable and justice-oriented ways. Using high-quality children’s literature as an entryway into these conversations, the classroom teachers, partnering with a university researcher, are working together to try to prevent bullying attitudes and behaviors before they begin.

Because it is frequently linked with sexuality and sexual orientation, addressing issues of gender and gender diversity with young children can lead to adult unease, both on the part of parents as ...

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