A somewhat coherent look women’s roles and the portrayal of women in children’s fiction (and how It messes us all up just a little bit)

It has been theorised that the act of reading fiction breeds empathy within us;

“Just as computer simulations help us get to grips with complex problems like flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas help us understand the complexities of social life” (Parker, 2018)

In the article ‘Transportation into a story increases empathy, prosocial behavior, and perceptual bias toward fearful expressions‘ (Johnson, D. R. 2012), It was stated that there are three ways fiction can affect our personalities- by increasing our empathy, ‘destabilizing’ our personalities to let us experience character growth alongside the protagonist and by teaching us new ideas through indirect communications. 

From the aforementioned psychological theory and study, it think it’s pretty safe to say that the media we are subject to in our most formative years is pretty dang important in early development. Which leads us to the question- how does this tie into the way we grow up viewing equality? What are the roles of women in children’s narratives and how have they changed with social attitudes- how does children’s media affect the way young girls see themselves and their ‘role’?

In the lyrical words of Neil Gaiman from popular children’s novel (and a personal favourite of mine) Coraline;

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” (Gaiman et al., 2008)

In recent years, women have become their own knights- particularly with the popularity of the ‘Fractured fairy tale’ trope currently dominating children’s media. Classical stories we’ve grown up with for countless generations are being inverted and given new twists; for example Amelie Flechais’ ‘The little red wolf’ (Fléchais, Perrault and Melloul, 2017) and Bethan Woolvin’s ‘Little red’ (Woollvin, 2017) are both reinterpretations of the myth of Little Red Riding Hood.

(Woollvin, 2017)

In Woollvin’s work, the storyline is centered around Little Red Riding Hood’s cunning and levelheadness which she uses to save herself instead of relying on the hunter. It’s a wonderfully funny and aesthetically beautiful adaptation and I’m immensely jealous of every kid who gets to grow up with it. You kids don’t know what you’re getting.

(Fléchais, Perrault and Melloul, 2017)

In contrast, Fléchais’ work presents us with the Hunter’s daughter as the antagonist, swapping the roles of masculine antagonist/female protagonist most often seen with this legend. (And to side track a moment, ever since finding Fléchais’ work back in 2013, i’ve been completely besotted with this book. Just look how incredible the art is! I cannot recommend her work enough)

It’s important as illustrators, writers and people who work in visual storytelling that we are self aware of what media we’re putting out into the world, what messages we’re endorsing with our artwork/stories/creation.

People often look back with a critical eye on older works of literature and art and say things such as ‘it’s of its time’ when addressing issues like racial stereotyping and sexism ingrained in them. This is something so extremely prevalent in J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan- such as when Wendy stitches Peter’s shadow back onto him during their meeting;  

…she got out her housewife, and sewed the shadow on to Peter’s foot” (Barrie p40)

Or later in the story, when Peter refuses to let Wendy and Tiger Lily speak, Wendy finds herself struggling with internal concerns about Peter’s decisions but is unable to voice them on accounts of societal expectations.

Wendy sympathized with them a little, but she was far too loyal a housewife to listen to any complaints against father. “Father knows best,” she always said, whatever her private opinion must be. (Barrie p116)

(Even as a young girl the above lines had me going feral because really? what was that?)

Regardless of these problems, Peter Pan is still beloved by many and has been readapted countless times for over 100 years now. It’s not exactly a huge leap then to say there will come a time when we look back on the 2010s and lament over how things went wrong- in a similar way to how since 2011 editions of Huckleberry Finn the text has been censored of vile racial slurs due to use of the N word.

And sure, maybe Huckleberry Finn gets put down to being a ‘product of it’s time’ but there are also contemporary examples of books that have been criticized for their inappropriateness, negative portrayals and gender stereotyping of women. For example: wildly popular children’s fiction, Harry Potter.

In Rowling’s case, the criticism tends to fall on her rather than her work (I mean, we’ve all seen her tweets and yikes my dudes) but death of the author for a hot second: There’s plenty of questionable content in her writing too.

Whilst Rowling created a rich canon with several main female characters that are perceived as ‘strong’ there is ingrained sexism in the background world building. Here’s an example from someone way smarter than me;

“The two male houses represented more masculine features: purity of bloodline and power for Slytherin and bravery and strength for Gryffindor. The female houses sought after more feminine qualities: wisdom and cleverness, and loyalty and inclusiveness with food-related charms.” (Greif, 2015)

Due to changing attitudes towards women’s roles from the 1920s to the present, it can be assumed that modern children’s fiction is more progressive in its treatment of female characters and will continue this pattern. At least, I really really hope that will be the case, because did you see that Peter Pan quote? Big old yikes.

Looking at what contemporary books are in circulation and production compared to books that were being produced during my early childhood (the late 90s-early 2000s) there has been,on the surface level at least, a HUGE improvement in how we depict girls. But then a 2011 study by Florida State University (McCabe, 2011) found ‘100 years of gender bias in children’s books’ and who am I to question academics?

“Following the onset of the women’s movement in the ’60s and ’70s, greater gender parity for central characters became more normative, This suggests a historical link between gender politics and gender representations in print.” Daniel Tope (McCabe, 2011)

So now that’s all said and done, let’s do a super brief timeline of the social attitudes toward women (Fun right?)

From the late 1800’s till the early 1920s there was dramatic shift in dynamics and the attitudes expressed by women due to the political movements at the time to give women equality. In 1918, women were finally granted the rights to vote (so long as they were over the age of 30 but hey still a big improvement).

Despite not yet having the ability to vote, female children’s authors were not uncommon prior to 1918. However, even work produced by women pioneers of children’s books such as Beatrix Potter or Kate Greenaway was still mimicking the social attitude of the time (more on that later) It seems whatever century we’re in, Media and works of fiction are not in a bubble separating them from the political and social climates outside, everything is connected.

 “Victorian literature – as with Victorian reality – abounds with intelligent women going mad with frustration, denied the means to state their intellectual curiosity and the opportunity to pursue a career” (Heffer, 2013).

During the 1800s books were becoming more readily available due to the industrial revolution and invention of steam printing presses (just after the 1820s’) and the sudden increase of paper mills. Whilst still a privilege only middle and upper classes could enjoy, the industry was growing at a crazy rate due to the popularity of novels. However, books cost money so personal libraries would be small (not like the embarrassing amount of YA I have in storage right now) and books would have be shared between children. Whilst reading was for pleasure, the cost of these books meant entertainment wasn’t valued as highly as works that could teach things. So books were for morals and teaching rather than a fun story about some friends finding magic powers or talking dogs. (I know I just called those kids out on their privilege, but damn what a terrible world to grow up in)

Publishers started to market children’s books as ‘indestructible’ due to being cloth bound. by 1894 there were four pages of linen children’s books listed in the McLoughlins catalogue (Cave and Ayad, 2017). These books were integral to the increase of children’s books, making it more affordable (And economical) to have something that could be passed down generations of children.  

During this time, there is a certain image that girls are being portrayed as- Little women, so to speak. In J.M Barrie’s Peter and Wendy (1911), Wendy is the home maker even in Neverland, the world of eternal childhood. She is given the role of looking after her younger siblings rather than allowing her to be a young girl herself- I realise i’ve already complained about this, but i’m not done with it yet.

Girls were treated as future wives and mothers- the idea that they would one day go into a career was scandalous. They required education for the role of ‘Angel of the house’ but the more upper class women would be required an education in ‘accomplishments’ such as Piano forte, embroidery or speaking other languages. I feel fancy just for writing those phrases.

“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages” (Austen, 2010)

That being said, a young girl was not supposed to be viewed as too eager to find a husband or future match, and had to remain impassive, quiet and would be expected to hold back (Hughes, 2014). They just couldn’t win could they?

This is alluded to in the 1886 book, ‘Apple Pie’ by Kate Greenaway.

Throughout the book Greenaway’s illustrations feature young girls in almost mothering roles- cutting the pie, handing it out, and then holding back from the fuss that occurs around them from the young boys.

So the girls are all soft and restrained compared to the wild rapscallion nature of the boys depicted. I don’t know about anyone else but It looks like WAY more fun to get into some fisty cuffs over it than just gazing at it with love.

And now to look kind of unbiased i’m going to drag one of my favourite illustrators.

In Beatrix Potter’s famous The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Potter, 1902), Peter’s mother Mrs Rabbit (I know, classy name) is presented to us as this doting mother figure who is unable to control her wild and rambunctious son. Her daughters on the otherhand, are super ready to obey and listen to their mother and then proceed to gather berries and help her with what we can presume are the chores. Peter however, is a little dick and ignores the rules yet somehow is the character we are supposed to root for during his adventure as the protagonist. (I say this like I’d be rooting for the ladies if they weren’t such boring background characters. Peter’s terrible, but i’m 100% ready for bunny crime capers over housework)

(Now i’m re-reading page one i’m struck by how dark it is. Put in a pie WHAT?)

ANYWAY fast track a few years to 1918, the Suffragettes movement finally brought change- women (over the age of 30) were granted the right to vote. A parliamentary act was passed that allowed women the chance to stand as an MP (The qualification of women act). This didn’t result in an immediate change in regards to media depictions or widespread belief. Basically, things were still kind of naff for a while.

Anti-Suffragette propaganda, 1910

In the post war years and 1950s, conformity was back at the forefront of expectations with a heavy emphasis on the perfect nuclear family. Due to the emphasis on rebuilding and returning to how things were before the war, the ongoing child support working women could get became extremely limited as facilities closed, the media putting added pressure on the idealised perfect family unit.  “Marriage was more popular than ever before.” (Bruley, 1999)

This kind of view is reflected in children’s narratives such as Enid Blyton’s ‘the famous five’ children’s novels, the publication of these books spanning from 1942-1963.

The two females in the main recurring cast are Anne and Georgina (George). Despite Anne being the youngest of the group, as the traditionally feminine character she is left with the domestic chores such as cooking cleaning and setting up camp whilst they group go off on adventures. She is essentially only there to provide the role as Homemaker for the gang.

George however cuts her hair short, only dresses as a boy and asks on several occasions to be referred to as Master instead of Miss. This gives her the leeway to be headstrong, brave and strong tempered. Whilst there could potentially be the interpretation that George is in fact an early trans character in mid 20th century children’s books, this claim has been put down several times including in a The Times article which states;

“…Any sort of subsequent homosexual or transgender adulthood seems unlikely. For one thing, in the 2008 television series Famous 5: On the Case the adult George is happily married to a car mechanic called Ravi” (Parris, 2009)

As a queer woman who strongly advocates for death of the author, I like to believe that George is in fact very early trans rep. It doesn’t deserve the Kudos of it because at the end of the day it’s queer coding more than anything else, but I want to believe.

STILL in this study i’m looking at it from those cold hard facts and trying to make it as academic as possbible so we are left with the straightforward interpretation of this: in order for a young girl to be seen as anything other than a domestic creature to the boys she somehow has to reject all femininity.

Anne who was docile and the ‘weak’ member of the group enjoyed wearing dresses and cooking and coddled by the other members of the group. 

“Carrying baskets of primroses and violets, the girls began to climb up the steep side of the quarry. Julian took Anne’s basket from her, afraid she might slip and fall” (Blyton, 1997)

It’s a sharp comparison to George, whose personality was more akin to the boys in the group (Julian and Dick) and rejected anything traditionally feminine. This can be seen when she gets angry at being called Georgina and rejoicing when people mistake her for a boy.

In the last decade or so there has also been an increase in creating non-fiction children’s books to teach the stories of women who did amazing feats but were sidelined in history due to misogyny and elitism. Thanks to the publication and distribution of these books, younger generations of girls will have access to the stories of those who came before them.

Given the current push for getting young girls into STEM fields (like the pretty Curious campaign (EDF Energy, 2018) it seems the focus is shifting more onto telling the life stories of pioneering Women. In 2018, Kate Pankhurst’s book ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World’ hit shelves and was nominated for the Cilip Caregie & Kate Greenaway Children’s book awards (2018).

So now that’s out the way, Lets look at the evolution of the book industry and how female characters were depicted in children’s literature (Because that’s what we do for fun around these parts)

“It can be argued that the whole of children’s literature, pretty much, is an attempt to steer children’s beliefs in one direction or another. But publishers and those they work for, have not been above using children’s books to further the ideologies of their chosen political regimes” -(Cave and Ayad, 2017)

Throughout history, books have been ‘banned’ for challenging ideologies – even renowned children’s books such as Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the wild things are’ which was banned in southern American states in schools and libraries for for being too dark. Public outcry over the book extended to prominent child Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim stating in Ladies’ Home Journal;

What [Sendak] failed to understand is the incredible fear it evokes in the child to be sent to bed without supper, and this by the first and foremost giver of food and security—his mother.” (Spillman, 2018)

Whatever people’s opinions on the book, the ban didn’t prevent it from winning the caldecott medal for “the most distinguished American picture book” or getting a 2009 live action film. (Telegraph.co.uk, 2018)

Even Bambi (Salten, 1939), which was later adapted into a disney animation, was banned in Nazi Germany for its themes of persecution and assimilation which reflected the general Jewish experience at the time.

Publishing has naturally come a long way since the 1960s with more ‘controversial’ books being slipped through. In recent years, self publishing and crowdfunding has become a far more viable option with websites such as Kickstarter, Gofundme, and Indigogo being amongst the most popular and providing space for children’s books specifically.

Self publishing is not a new trend by any stretch of the imagination- after all the initial formatting for beatrix Potter’s beloved The tale of peter rabbit was all done to her design, and she paid for the initial small print run herself, however it opens up exciting possibilities for leveling what can be an incredibly white orientated field.

In 2018 research published by CLPE (the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) stated 1% of UK children’s books published in 2017 featured a BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) protagonist (huffington post, 2018). Whilst publishing houses should strive to do better, and for the most part have been taking steps to diversify what they produce such as Penguin’s ‘WriteNow’ campaign (Penguin.co.uk, 2018) which connects minority authors to agents and editors, the rise in popularity for crowdfunding helps create a level playing field.

It cuts out gatekeeping, avoidance of topics too ‘controversial’ for most publishing houses to consider and can even help generate interest for a mainstream publisher to take risks. Recently, Alice Oseman’s Teen webcomic Heartstopper (which was initially only available for free online) was self published and raised almost £60,000 in crowdfunding. Following the immense success, Hachette Children’s Group acquired the rights for publication. (Thebookseller.com, 2018)

So with recent years supplying us with crowd funding and indie publishing, it’s important to note the success of Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’ (Cavallo and Favilli, 2017).

“Children’s books have not changed since we were children – the men are still the protagonists and the women are still the princesses” – Elena Favilli (Rannard, 2017)

Favailli and Cavallo are the creators of the first iPad formatted children’s magazine ‘Timbuktu Magazine’ which was the driving force of inspiration behind creating the rebel girls series as it showed them the importance of positive representation and how one sided children’s media can be.

“We realized that 95% of the books and TV shows we grew up with lacked girls in prominent positions”. (Kickstarter, 2018)

Goodnight stories for Rebel Girls takes the stories of real life women such as Malala Yousafzai, Queen Elizabeth I and Frida Kahlo (etc.) and retells them in a manner similar to a fairytale with each story starting with ‘Once upon a time’ format. The use of this format incites young readers in, romanticizes the lives of these women and creates an association between beloved fairytale princesses and real life women they can aspire to be like.

The short, one page per story format makes it easily accessible as a bedtime story and means the darker, more emotionally challenging parts of the stories can be mentioned in passing, presenting more focus on the empowering messages behind each of the stories.

Malala Yousafzai has written her story with a similar whimsical twist on reality in her 2017 children’s book Malala’s Magic Pencil (Yousafzai and Kerascoët, n.d.). Malala retold her life story from the perspective of what she wished she could do as a young girl and how it lead to her eventual fame and nobel peace prize. Whilst the horrors of what she had to go through were downplayed to make her story more accessible and child friendly, the message behind it is still powerful and encourages young girls to use their voices.

( Yousafzai and Kerascoët, n.d. )

Children’s fiction such as Peter Pan, the chronicles of Narnia or the famous five are all riddled with underlying sexism as i’ve mentioned previously but there was also a very narrow type female representation. Traditionally, they were all white upper class children who didn’t have to worry about finances or the way society viewed them. This puts the character’s in a place where they can enjoy childhood.

However, in recent years there has been an increase in difficult topics being adapted for children’s books. Jacqueline Wilson is a prime example of this having written children’s novels that depict bullying, manic depression and homelessness. Despite the uncomfortable themes, Wilson’s work is widely admired resulting in numerous best sellers and the title of Children’s Laureate (Booktrust.org.uk, 2018) from 2005-2007.  

And to make this super academic: I’ve done some case studies so you don’t have to

Despite being so formative to who we are as individuals, creators of children’s books are often looked down upon as being a lesser form of art and storytelling. In 2013 the University of Kent went viral due to the course summary for their creative writing degree belittling the media. Whilst they changed their course overview an article from the Guardian has preserved the initial quote;

You won’t write mass-market thrillers or children’s fiction on our programmes.” (Said, 2013)

An article in the Guardian goes on to detail how affluent authors such as Patrick Ness, Michael Rosen and Malorie Blackman (Two of the three being former children’s Laureates) spoke out against the implications that children’s fiction isn’t ‘good’ literature.

Having previously established that there is a pattern within the improvement of gender equality in children’s narratives and the progression of societal norms, I’m now going to do an in depth dissection on three different works of highly acclaimed children’s media.

I’ve chosen Peter and Wendy (commonly known as Peter Pan), The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, due to their linked themes of young children escaping to a world adjacent to our own.

Peter and Wendy

Whilst I’ve complained about it already I feel Peter and Wendy (1911) is worth a more in depth overview due to its constant readaption as children’s media. Originally published as Peter and Wendy (And more commonly published now as ‘Peter Pan’) in what is deemed “the Golden Age of Children’s Literature” (Petzold 33), the story has been readapted countless times as broadway, ballet, Disney animation, and live film/tv actions. Since becoming public domain, it’s become the inspiration for several ‘twisted’ fairy tale trope Young adult novels too.

Wendy is presented to us as this archetypal ‘female’ that the Edwardian society wanted- whilst she’s offered adventures with pirates, mermaids and fantasy she is tempted to Neverland so she can act upon her maternal instincts with the lost boys.

From the very beginning of their friendship, Wendy is drawn to Peter, the eternal child, with an instinct to take care of him. From the very start of her characterization, she is shown not as a young girl but a future wife, as stated in the beginning pages-  she is naturally submissive to Peter, believing the best in him when she tries to convince him to take them with her-

“…He came back, and there was a greedy look in his eyes now which ought to have alarmed her, but did not.” (Barrie p48)

Her instinct as a feminine character is to be sweet and trusting despite the fact she has only just met Peter.

Later, when Wendy is finally introduced to the lost boys she ends up with their expectations on her to live up to her role as a motherly archetype to them.

“…Then all went on their knees, and holding out their arms cried, “O Wendy

lady, be our mother.”

“Ought I?” Wendy said, all shining. “Of course it’s frightfully fascinating,

but you see I am only a girl. I have no real experience.”

“That doesn’t matter,” said Peter, as if he were the only person present

who knew all about it, though he was really the person who knew least.“What we need is just a nice motherly person.”(Barrie 86)

The lion the witch and the Wardrobe

Another example of beloved ‘classical’ children’s literature that fatally lets down young girls is The Lion the Witch and the wardrobe, (Lewis and Baynes, 2009).

After finding Narnia, a magical world in the back of an old wardrobe, one of the four protagonists (and initial lead of the story) goes on to tell her siblings only for it to be dismissed and ignored as childish fancy.

Despite Edmund being at fault for accusing Lucy of lying about Narnia’s existence, when she doesn’t answer his initial apology he immediately assumes her lack of response is because she’s overly emotional.

“ ‘Just like a girl,’ said Edmund to himself, ‘sulking somewhere, and won’t accept an apology.’ ” (Lewis, p30)

Lucy, the youngest of the Pevensie siblings, is then shamed for not immediately accepting Edmund’s apology despite being relentlessly mocked days prior. She is framed as emotional and dramatic.  

Susan Pevensie is stated in the seventh book of the Chronicles of Narnia- The Last Battle (Lewis, 2018)to no longer be a ‘friend of Narnia’ due to her growing up and the shift in her values onto her outward appearance and socialsing. 

 “…She’s  interested in nothing except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.” (The Last Battle p169)

Susan is shamed for growing up improper and not retaining her childhood values, something which feels almost reminiscent of the Edwardian era ‘Angel of the house’ narrative. Given when C.S. Lewis was born (1898) it seems likely that the social attitude to women and girls in his youth shaped his expectations of how women should act.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

(1997 cover- 1st edition Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 2015)

Whilst I previously mentioned specific gender stereotypes that are ingrained in the world building in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling, 1997) it was also a positive milestone in children’s books as it made a huge cultural impact when it was first published- one that resulted in the creation of a children’s times best seller list due to a prolonged stay on the list.

“The change is largely in response to the expected demand for the fourth in the Harry Potter series of children’s books,“ (Smith, 2000).

Despite the eponymous protagonist being a young boy, Harry’s story is peppered with a variety of female characters who break stereotypes and carry along his journey. The biggest example of this would be in his best friend Hermione Granger, who spends her time seemingly devoted to studying ahead and learning all the gaps in Harry’s knowledge. 

 “In the friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Hermione accepts the role of the planner. She uses her wisdom to deliberate, but action seems to terrify her, as shown in her response to Harry’s natural inclination to action” (Mogg & Tully, 2012)

Whilst this could be interpreted as leaning into the damsel in distress trope and her natural inclination to take on the role as brains in the friendship could be compared with Wendy in Peter and Wendy, Rowling’s treatment of Hermione is much fairer giving her external motivations and goals separate from the main group.

Throughout the series, Hermione becomes aware of the the oppression and slavery of house elves. It’s noted throughout the books that house elves run the kitchens however when Hermione challenge’s the fact she’s never seen one in person she’s told;

“they come out at night to do a bit of cleaning….I mean you’re not supposed to see them, are you? that’s the mark of a good house-elf, isn’t it, that you don’t know its there.” (Rowling, 2000)

The portrayal of the old aforementioned ‘Angel of the house’ narrative with the implications that to be a good house-elf they shouldn’t be heard and having a beloved female character actively speaking against this stereotype shows the audience why the idea of a submissive, silent homemaker is a bad thing.

“Hermione’s response to the plight of house elves is, an unselfconscious response to greater feminist issues, or in other words a sublimation of problems with the way she is treated because she is a girl” (Kellner, 2010)

Hermione actively seeking to right this injustice not only shows young girls that it’s important to have a voice and speak up against injustice, but also shows a level of empathy and assertiveness. She never asks for permission to challenge injustice, she does it because it’s what she thinks is right.

So to wrap this up

 Perhaps if we look at this from a cynical perspective it was simply a move to pay homage the centenary of the suffragette movement (of which, Kate Pankhurst’s ancestors played such a large role in) but looking at current social climate with moments such the women’s marches that came out of the 2016 elections makes me a little more optimistic. Children will grow up knowing that history wasn’t only made by men, believing that they don’t just have to be princesses- they could be superheroes too.

And yes, there is still that level of elitism in reading that needs to be stamped out. Young girls from less affluent backgrounds will have a harder time accessing books that will teach them the true stories of women who came before them but it’s at least a step forwards. In time, those books will be more widely available to libraries, schools and smaller publishers will latch onto the idea of feminist media for young children, making far more options widely available with the introduction of them books for.supermarket bargain bins.

And whilst we can say industry done good for their improvement over the years, it’s also important to note there is still such a large gap. Casual sexism (Such as giving girls domestic roles in a group, having physically strong boys/ weak girls, male coded monsters/ villains) in children’s (fictional) books is is very much prevalent- In 2017 the Observer did ‘in-depth Analysis’ on the 100 most popular children’s book of that year found the depth of this injustice.

“The lead characters were 50% more likely to be male than female, and male villains were eight times more likely to appear compared to female villains.” (Ferguson, 2018)

But I don’t want to end on a down note. I hope if you take anything away from this it’s that the expectations of women and gender roles have thankfully improved a great deal since the 1920s and there has been a (mostly) positive pattern reflecting societal views in media. Recent books such as the previously mentioned Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (Cavallo and Favilli, 2017), and Little Red (Woollvin, 2017), are perhaps a becon of hope that more and more of this media will be produced and hopefully with a bigger focus on minority representation within women’s roles. Lets all keep our fingers crossed I guess.

Check it out! I’ve even added a damn bibliography so you can read people who are far smarter than me.

Spillman, R. (2018). Where the Wild Things Aren’t: On the Banning of Sendak. [online] PEN America. Available at: https://pen.org/where-the-wild-things-arent-on-the-banning-of-sendak/ [Accessed 26 Nov. 2018].

Telegraph.co.uk. (2018). Maurice Sendak. [online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/books-obituaries/9252498/Maurice-Sendak.html [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

Gaiman, N., Russell, P., Kindzierski, L. and Klein, T. (2008). Coraline. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Johnson, C. (2018). Barrie’s Traditional Woman: Wendy’s Fatal Flaw. Oglethorpe Journal of Undergraduate Research, 6(2).

Said, S. (2013). Who says children’s books can’t be great literature?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/dec/03/childrens-books-great-literature-university-of-kent-sf-said [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].

Cave, R. and Ayad, S. (2017). A history of children’s books in 100 books. 1st ed. London: British Library, p.236.

Barrie, J., Dubowski, C. and Zallinger, J. (2011). Peter Pan. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers.

the Guardian. (2018). New Huckleberry Finn edition censors ‘n-word’. [online] Available at:

··https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jan/05/huckleberry-finn-edition-censors-n-word [Accessed 25 Nov. 2018].

Greif, J. (2015). The Women in Harry Potter’s World: A feminist perspective. Masters. West Texas A&M University.

Austen, J. (2010). Pride and prejudice. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Potter, B. (2002). The tale of Peter Rabbit. Warne.

EDF Energy. (2018). Pretty Curious.

Available at: https://www.edfenergy.com/prettycurious [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018].

Djikic, M., & Oatley, K. (2014). The art in fiction: From indirect communication to changes of the self. Psychology Of Aesthetics, Creativity, And The Arts, 8(4), 498-505. doi:10.1037/a0037999

Stern, E. (2005). Trickle-Down Theory. American Journal of Roentgenology, 184(3), pp.719-719.

Johnson, D. R. (2012). Transportation into a story increases empathy, prosocial behavior, and perceptual bias toward fearful expressions. Per sonality and Individual Differences, 52, 150–155

Fléchais, A., Perrault, C. and Melloul, J. (2017). The little red wolf. 1st ed. CubHouse.

Woollvin, B. (2017). Little Red. 1st ed. Two Hoots.

McCabe, J. (2011). Florida State News and Events.

Fsu.edu. Available at: https://www.fsu.edu/news/2011/05/06/gender.bias/ [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

Salten, F. (1939). Bambi. 1st ed. Albert Müller.

Kickstarter. (2018). Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – 100 tales to dream BIG.

Thebookseller.com. (2018). Good Night Stories scoops Blackwell’s Book of the Year award | The Bookseller. [online] Available at: https://www.thebookseller.com/news/good-night-stories-scoops-blackwells-book-year-687656# [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

Bruley, S. (1999.). Women in Britain since 1900. New York: St. Martin’s Press, p.131.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269874783_The_Art_in_Fiction_From_Indirect_Communication_to_Changes_of_the_Self (499)

Thebookseller.com. (2018). HCG to publish Oseman’s online graphic novel | The Bookseller. [online] Available at: https://www.thebookseller.com/news/hcg-publish-oseman-s-online-graphic-novel-869686 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018].

Yousafzai, M. and Kerascoët (n.d.). Malala’s magic pencil. Puffin, pp.1-48.

Burgoyne, J. and Clark, D. (1991). Marriage, domestic life, and social change. London: Routledge. p11

Hughes, K. (2014). Gender roles in the 19th century. [online] Available at: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century [Accessed 1 Nov. 2018].

huffington post (2018). Only 1% Of Kids’ Books Have BAME Main Characters, So Here’s How We Can Change That. [online] Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/kids-books-bame-main-characters_uk_5b4e0d20e4b0fd5c73bf5b72 [Accessed 1 Nov. 2018].

Rannard, G. (2017). The anti-princess book teaching girls to rebel. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39115031 [Accessed 1 Dec. 2018].

Blyton, E. (1997). Five on Kirrin Island again. Hodder Children’s Books, p.80.

Parris, M. (2009). Of course Tintin’s gay. Ask Snowy. [online] Thetimes.co.uk. Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/of-course-tintins-gay-ask-snowy-sc59s6tzqv7 [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

Burgoyne, J. and Clark, D. (1991). Marriage, domestic life, and social change. London: Routledge

Penguin.co.uk. (2018). WriteNow. [online] Available at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/company/creative-responsibility/writenow/writenow.html [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].

Heffer, S. (2013). Meet the Victorian women who fought back. [online] Available at: https://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/founding-mothers [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

Petzold,  Dieter. “A Race Apart: Children in Late Victorian and Edwardian Children’s Books”. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. Volume 17, Number 3, fall 1992, 33; Print

Mikaelsson, A. (2016). Female gender roles in Peter and Wendy from a Feminist perspective. Bachelors Thesis 15hp. Umea University.

Lewis, C. and Baynes, P. (2009). The lion, the witch and the wardrobe. New York, NY: Harper.

Lewis, C. (2018). The Last Battle. La Vergne: Dreamscape Media.

Rowling, J. (1997). Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury.

Smith, D. (2000). [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/24/books/the-times-plans-a-children-s-best-seller-list

Mogg, J., & Tully, K. (2012). Harry gets by with a little help from his friends: An Aristotelian reading of virtue and friendship in Harry Potter. Reasons Papers.

Kellner, R. (2010). J. K. Rowling’s ambivalence towards feminism: House elves – women in disguise -in the “Harry Potter” Books. Midwest Quarterly

Rowling, J. (2000). Harry Potter and the goblet of fire. London [etc.]: Bloomsbury, p.182.

Parker, K. (2018). How reading can boost empathy. [online] Available at: https://www.tes.com/news/how-reading-can-boost-empathy [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018].

Booktrust.org.uk. (2018). Meet Children’s Laureate 2005-2007 Jacqueline Wilson. [online] Available at: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/what-we-do/childrens-laureate/former-laureates/jacqueline-wilson/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2018].