What is the mentality of teenage girls

Male and female roles in children's and young adult books

Margarete Blank-Mathieu


Boys and girls receive information on how to behave as boys or girls in a variety of ways. The different reading habits of boys and girls, which are expressed very early on, play an essential role in the development of a role model and a gender identity of their own. If we want them to read more and learn different roles in the process, we have to have more than the usual books that boys and girls pick up spontaneously for the kindergarten and school library.

First of all, it is important to consider what goals we ourselves have for an understanding of the roles of men and women and what we find worth supporting and important.

1. Boys and girls today need flexible role models

There is no longer a clearly female or male role today. The more women move outside the home and originally conquer male domains, the more men have to rethink and reorient themselves. A democratic approach is becoming more and more important, and the role of man or woman gives way to the demands of everyday life.

The fact that society still has firm ideas about being a man and woman is a hindrance to this development. There are still concerns about women in management positions as to whether they are able to fill them properly. Men in originally female professions, e.g. as educators, are often seen as heads of institutions.

What needs a boy or girl has and what the child would like to be like is shaped early on by social ideas and often reformulated to the detriment of the child. It still teaches little boys that they are strong and courageous, even when they prefer to be weak and cautious. Girls learn that their insubordination is not seen with pleasure and that they should rather be lovely and conformed. However, this does not happen openly and is now rejected by most parents from an educational point of view.

The media are a socialization authority that contributes to the consolidation of traditional role models - regardless of whether it is advertising on television, the representation of men and women in magazines, narratives and stories in school books or stories about children can be heard on cassette or CD. The roles that women and men, boys and girls take on in it also shape their own role models.

2. The development of gender identity in relation to role models in children's and young people's books

The development of gender identity goes hand in hand with the development of language and thought. First of all, children have no particular idea of ​​what men and women are like. They also experience male and female behavior and store it in their subconscious. As soon as they are able to speak, share what they have learned. Marianne Grabrucker reports of her two-year-old daughter that she once said spontaneously: women naked, men talk. Apparently she had seen advertising pictures of women and internalized pictures from the news.

Children need fixed reference images, stereotypical ideas

For their development, children first need stereotypes to which they can link further information. At first glance, this sounds counterproductive when you look at it in relation to the gender issue. But just as children learn that a bird can fly and has a beak to peck, it also learns what women and men are like. The result is pictures of children that give men muscles, draw them large and important (cigars, weapons, etc.), and women with clothes and lots of decorative accessories. Children need this at a certain stage of development.

Picture books with fixed roles, as the child knows, are good for giving him security. Men and women are different, behave differently, speak in a different tone and are represented differently in different contexts. This should also appear in picture books. I want to show you what that means: men and machines; Women and home, family, shopping.

Children need counter-images to which they can connect new information and enable initial reflections

In the meantime, children often find out that their families have a different concept of roles. Maybe the father is home and the mother goes to work. The sporty mother, who mostly wears trousers and does little or no make-up, is experienced as a woman as much as the saleswoman in a cosmetics store who is dressed up with stylish clothes.

From the age of five, the child is able to compare and decide which role suits him best. Now roles are also re-enacted, while the older children used to distribute the roles.

Different male and female roles in the picture book

Older children need many forms of male and female roles in order to define their own role models and to achieve their own gender identity. Boys in particular have problems seeing many men in their everyday lives. It is particularly important for them to encounter different manifestations of male behavior, at least in the media.

Young people have developed certain ideas of what suits them and what role models do not suit them. They train their own behavior in the peer group and try to gain recognition there. But young people also need books that show them ways of dealing with the opposite sex.

In their search for the man or woman in themselves, young people still need adults who can show them a realistic role model that they want to take on. They also need books that contain men and women from different times and cultures. Comparing how men and women lived and live then and now, or how the image of men and women in different cultures dictates certain roles, helps young people to find their way in their culture and time and the roles they experience in men and women, to reflect. Your own drafts for the future can be attached to it.

In summary, the following books can be recommended:

  1. Books that reflect their own environment in order to experience that it is normal how men and women behave in their own environment security to win.
  2. Books that bring alternative drafts to reflect the familiar ideas measure up and to be able to make up your own mind.
  3. Books, the drafts of the successful handling between Men and women, boys and girls demonstrate.
  4. Books that Variations show the role of men and women (different times, different cultures).
  5. role models to find one's identity. Above all, biographies and autobiographies are recommended here that show people with a secure life plan that they maintain even through difficult conditions.