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Positive, non-sexist books and videos for toddler girl?

(100 Posts)
franch Sat 11-Jun-05 09:08:45

It's gradually dawning on me how sexist some TV programmes and books for the very young are - stuff like the Tweenies and Bob the Builder are really beginning to irritate me.

As we've cancelled our Sky subscription I'm relying on videos/DVDs from now on, which will allow me to be more selective (not that DD watches much TV but we've got a new baby on the way and I know I'll start resorting to it more when b/fing etc).

So - book and video/TV recommendations for an 18mo please, full of subversive girl power!

franch Sat 11-Jun-05 09:09:36

PS: She's also mixed race, so multicultural stuff particularly appreciated

Miranda5 Sat 11-Jun-05 09:45:34

I do agree with you there. My fourth child I done let him watch t.v ( he does not want to as he has not been exposed to it) but obviously my big children do.

I like barefoot books as they expliore other cultures etc.
People laugh at me cos my toddler is so gentle etc ( a boy) but I am a great believer in nurture being as important as nature! I sound really right - on which I am not...I do have strong views on all this stuff though!

( Pocahontas is an absolute favourite video !)

Twiglett Sat 11-Jun-05 09:48:44

sorry but why are 'bob the builder' and the tweenies sexist??

wendy does as much building work as bob does - and the young girl in the builders merchants does all the work

as for tweenies they all do the same things

I don't see the sexism tbh

JoolsToo Sat 11-Jun-05 09:53:58


bobbybob Sat 11-Jun-05 09:57:48

Can't think that Fimbles has struck me as being particularly sexist.

New Wombles is so PC that I took it back when it started to jump and changed it for Hairy Maclary. All of the dogs and most of the cats are male, but ds at 27 months is going through his "daddy is a man, mummy is a lady, bob is a boy" phase and when I ask about Hairy Maclary he gives me the "look" and says "Hairy Maclary is a DOG!"

My Car by Byron Barton has a female mechanic, Hug by Jez Alborough just has animals in it, lots of stuff by Eric Carle has no gender issues and is good for counting and science (Tiny Seed, Hungry Caterpillar).

Books for this age using animals always tend to have the pronoun "he" but I think this is largely because of the difficulty preschoolers have with the concept of the personal pronoun. I find myself describing animals as he, even if I know they are female (ie a pregnant giraffe I know is called Natalie).

welshmum Sat 11-Jun-05 10:01:40

The Paper Bag Princess

franch Sat 11-Jun-05 10:19:11

Miranda - thanks v much for the link. You might find Letterbox Library interesting too.

bobbybob - Agree about Fimbles, have started off with 2 of their vids - although I'm now looking for reading and viewing matter that will positively counterbalance messages that DD gets elsewhere, as opposed to simply not reinforcing them, IYSWIM. My Car looks v good.

welshmum - would DD be ready for The Paperbag Princess at 18m do you think?

ScummyMummy Sat 11-Jun-05 10:59:25

Jools! Groaning is a aloud is a bit off, ettiquette-wise, isn't it?!

I can see what Franch is getting at, personally. I don't think these programmes are overtly sexist but they are terminally unable to think outside the box genderwise, IMO. I haven't seen Bob the Builder for years so can't comment in depth but it isn't called Wendy the Builder, is it? Nice, supportive Wendy has not broken through the glass ceiling, clearly. And each of the Tweenies very obviously reflects a commonly held stereotype, based heavily on gender IMO- Milo gets to drive the spaceship, Jake pretends to be a superhero, Bella is a quintessential bossy little girl and Fizz is a fairy princess. Nothing wrong with any of those things but I think franch is absolutely spot on to ask what other visions and messages are out there for her daughter (and for children generally). Yes, Tweenies may reflect tendencies wired into many little boys and girls to an extent but if these are the only messages they are getting from TV on what it is to be a boy or a girl, can we really say that our children are getting a rounded picture? I think it speaks volumes that so far no one can think of any TV that has a noticeably different gender message. People have only mentioned books. The only thing I can think of is "Come Outside!"- older woman and female dog explore world in an aeroplane- and I'm not even sure if that's on any more. Will be interested to see what else people can come up with. I hope there's more out there than I think.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 11-Jun-05 11:03:48

The Powerpuff Girls do ok, but I'd say they were more than a bit old for an 18-month-old. (The girls are girly, but they also fight, and they each have their own personality.)

The woman who did Mummy Laid an Egg has some good anti-sexist stuff. (sorry, can't remember her name)

I am also depressed by this stuff, but generally fight it by messing with my son's head. Latest argument: whether Yoda (from Star Wars) is a girl. Why I can't (pretend to) be a male Jedi. Etc, etc.

ScummyMummy Sat 11-Jun-05 11:30:36

Sorry- meant "groaning aloud is a bit off". Ignore the "is a" bit!

Newbarnsleygirl Sat 11-Jun-05 11:37:27

Dora the explora, Kids seem to love this.

Tikabilla is female, I think.

Newbarnsleygirl Sat 11-Jun-05 11:39:52

Disney stuff like Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland.

I'm sure I can think of loads but my brains not working atm.

franch Sat 11-Jun-05 11:40:27

Scummymummy - thanks, extremely well put. I too am a bit troubled by the lack of response re. TV - is there nothing out there? I've never seen Dora the Explorer, might that be what I'm looking for???

NQC - love the Star Wars stuff, keep it up Babette Cole I think you mean - does she have anything for the very young?

franch Sat 11-Jun-05 11:41:14

Newbarnsleygirl - cross post - thanks for answering my Dora question

Newbarnsleygirl Sat 11-Jun-05 11:44:51

Dora is great. She speaks a bit of spanish in it and it gives children the chance to participate in it.

My dd who is 20 months loves to scream and babble at Dora.

ScummyMummy Sat 11-Jun-05 11:47:39

Oh yes! Dora is very cool. Forgot about her.

Twiglett Sat 11-Jun-05 11:50:05

but its called Bob the Builder because he's the main character

however wendy is his sidekick and is totally capable of doing as many building jobs as he is .. if anything he gets in trouble and she helps him out at times

I truly do fail to see how this isn't a PC programme and worry that people read too much into things at times

I do think it is your influence that is key as the parent . if you aren't afraid to roll up your sleeves and have a go then your children won't be, if you don't automatically classify things as for girls / boys then neither will your kids. If you see sexism in everything then so will your child and will feel victimised as a result

I have a boy and a girl .. my 4 year old boy is the proud possessor of some new pink spotty hairclips yet he is really into power rangers and play fights, his female friends are into playing house, dressing up and being extremely girly and pink ..all their parents took the anti-sexist stance and it makes no difference at all to what they like to do and see.

I do think that we should support and encourage them in whatever they want to do.

vive la difference

Twiglett Sat 11-Jun-05 11:51:57

Dora's great. But following the logic in this thread if Dora the explorer was Juan the Explorer it wouldn't be a suitable programme for a toddler girl

Miranda5 Sat 11-Jun-05 12:14:57

ScummyMummy - well said girl!!!!

franch - your link took me to the barefoot website....

Hulababy Sat 11-Jun-05 12:16:33

Not sure how much, once they get a bit older, you can control really though. DD is now 3y 2m and has always been a very girly girl. But when little at home, at friends and at nursery she had access to all manner of toys, books, TV/films, experiences. Despite this she has definitely gravitated towards very girly things - she adores Disney Princess stuff. She loves pink and prefers dresses and skirts to trousers. She will play with boys type toys and things - of with other boys, and she will play sport and fighting with us, she has toy cars, etc. Buy given a choice she will always go for the more girl type toys and films.

I am not particularly girly at all, but DD is.

I have just taken DD's lead and let her decide what she does and doesn't like. Has worked well for us. And I have no problems at all with her liking girly things. I don't think it'll harm her int he long run. And what is wrong with wanting to be girly at times anyway.

franch Sat 11-Jun-05 12:16:53

Oops - here you go Miranda: Letterbox Library

ScummyMummy Sat 11-Jun-05 12:19:22

I agree that good stories are hugely important and shouldn't be sacrificed to pc-ness. But I also think TV should give children a wide range of messages and promote a "can-do" approach to all sorts of activities and I don't see why these two things are incompatible. If a huge proportion of programming reflects gender stereotypes/tendencies how can parents take an anti-sexist stance, twig, unless thay ban TV? I'd agree that B the B isn't sexist in itself but I would argue that TV programme makers/commissioners have a bit of a tick box, add on approach to gender generally. And race. I find that female and black characters often "appear" or have their parts radically boosted in programmes like Bob the B, Fireman Sam, Postman Pat etc a good way into the run, as people notice the dominance of white male characters and want to rectify this. Fact remains that there are few, if any, programmes where females are the main character in a gender neutral way. There's no programmes called Mandy the Milkwoman, Farmer Faith the Farmer or Policewoman Prithika to balance it out a bit, are there? Dora is the only one we've come up with so far that might interest franch's 18 month old. It's the cumulative effect of such unadventurousness rather than the individual programmes per se that concerns me.

ScummyMummy Sat 11-Jun-05 12:39:51

I'm just trying to argue that all children need a wide variety of people/messages to identify with, twig. I am very glad my boys saw and liked Dora the Explorer and don't think girls shouldn't watch Bob the Builder because the main charcter is a man for a second. I agree with Hula that in time kids make their own desires clear anyway and that there is nothing wrong with macho boys and girly girls... but I want them to make an informed decision! And I want boys and girls who do depart from the macho/girly stance to know that that's ok and for their macho/girly friends to know they're ok too. I honestly think that TV doesn't give much reinforcement of the non-macho/girly options.

Twiglett Sat 11-Jun-05 12:40:40

yes you make a valid point

BUT I personally find the BBC's ultra-PC stance to be a little wearing at times .. its like here's a new BBC programme ok there's the black male, and here's the black female, ok there we have the person in the wheelchair and here's an asian / chinese female / male of choice .. and the caucasian is .... ok where's the caucasian???

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