Do Your Children's Books Contain Gender Bias?

Every women has come up against it at some point – and some of us live with it ever day. It is the simple inability to articulate a train of thought and be heard – all the way to the end.


  • For some of us, it is literally not being able to raise your voice above the hubbub in the room.
  • Some of us find a ready supply of “mainsplaining” the things we just don’t get.
  • For some of us, it is being cut off two words into the first sentence and ignored.

But did you think it would happen in the books you’re reading your children, from as young as two?


I certainly didn’t.


So it was with a rising sense of horror that I read about a University of Lincoln study that identified some distinct gender biases between the “Mr Men” and “Little Miss” books written originally by Roger Hargreaves and more latterly by his son Adam Hargreaves.

   Gender bias in Mr Men and Little Miss books
 The biases identified by researcher Madeleine Pownall centered on three aspects: the passivity of the central Little Miss characters, that the Little Miss characters spoke fewer words throughout the story than Mr Men and were saved more often by third party characters than the Mr Men characters. (This is not to say that the Mr Men characters always dug themselves out of trouble, just that there was an insinuation that the Little Miss characters “need” to be saved significantly more often than the Mr Men.


While I am sure the Hargreaves were not intentionally trying to send a message that women need saving and shouldn’t speak up, it is there. A reflection of our world.


Is this the subliminal message I want both my daughter and my son to hear in their bedtime stories?


Absolutely not.


But my children love the Mr Men and Little Miss books. So this means I will need to be far more analytical of the content of the stories and only read the ones that reflect the type of responses by the hero that I want my children to subconsciously absorb. The lessons that reflect that they are competent to sort out their own messes and empowered to speak up. This is not just true of the Mr Men and Little Miss books, but of all the stories we read together.


And this is what Zoowun’s personalized stories are all about!

  • Each story is available in versions that star either a boy or girl hero. Even better, that hero has your child’s own name.
  • Our heroes figure out their own solutions, rather than being “saved” by third parties.
  • Each gender-based version is available with the illustrations showing avatars with six different skin tones, five different hair colors and a number of individual hairstyles. This way, you can choose the picture version that looks most like your special child.


So, if you want to give your child personalized bedtime stories without any gender bias, visit  us here.


And please tell us in the comment section below what you think – is there a hidden bias in many children’s books? Or are we adults seeing something that isn’t there?