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Ages 1 to 3: Breaking Stereotypes
Stereotype-Smashing Books For Toddlers
Quick Things You Need To Know:
- Smash the kyriarchy:
- Feature powerful protagonists of color with agency
- Feature characters with disabilities as competent equals
- Recognize that not all homes and neighborhoods look like the ones we live in (and they are no better or worse than ours.)
- Familiarity vs. Novelty: At this age they will want to re-read the same book over and over for a few weeks or even months in a row.
- Repetition: They’ll develop interests in particular themes: trucks, farm animals, beards (yes, like the facial hair), babies, etc. Just run with it. If you get really sick of a particular book, try getting another book with the same theme to mix it up and keep yourself from dying of boredom.
- Meet tots where they are:
- Cognitive development
- From 12-18 months: Starting to get excited about properties of items (colors, shapes). Can follow simple directions, “Can you point to the purple cat?” Separation anxiety peaks around now.
- From 18-24 months: Big leap in interest from simple board books featuring single items to books with a simple story line. For instance, they’ll see ‘Goodnight Moon’ as more than a collection of items, and understand it’s a wider narrative of a bunny going to bed.
- From 24-30 months: Temper tantrums in full swing. Starting to feel agency in feeding themselves with a cup/spoon, and getting undressed by themselves – but they still suck at everything, and get suuuper frustrated when a sock won’t come off. Starting to realize how weak they are while all the older folks around them can do these things easily.
- From 30-36 months: Preschool enrollment opens up about starts around 2.5-2.75 years, so expect to deal with some separation anxiety, new school jitters (if they previously stayed at home with a caregiver), and the adjustment from lots of open play at home to a more structured day schedule (depending on the home and school atmospheres.)
- Non-linear reading: Don’t expect a kid under 3 to sit still and read a book cover-to-cover. Around 18 months and again at 2.5 years and 3.5 years, your kid will have a big cognitive leap and will be more ready for storybooks with increasingly linear story lines.
- Destruction: Some kids are delicate and cautious. Mine were not. Expect all books to be tugged, thrown, and stepped on. Never leave them alone with a library book. This is not the time for delicate flaps and pop-up books.
- Cognitive development
Stereotype-Smashing books for toddlers
- Babybug Magazine features an intro story with Kim & Carrots. Kim is nonbinary and ambiguously non-white, but the household and environment is set within a middle America vanilla suburb. They sometimes have hearts on a shirt, but in a way that suggests to me that it could be a boy who wears hearts, and so on.
- Smash That Trash – For kids who are wild about trucks – this one features a feminine garbage truck. Buuut she’s pink. Sigh. 12m-3y.
- Grandpa and me, features an East Asian/Pacific Islander grandpa who is not only a caretaker but also a cook. Depending on how you look at this, this is either tokenizing (which it totally is) or breaking gender and race constructs, since in my family at least, no Chinese grandpa would ever step food in the kitchen or help with childcare. We read it as a ‘do as you see in the book, not as your real grandpa does.’ Beware of other Katz books, as she tends to be super problematic. Auntie And Me looks promising, but it doesn’t come out until 12/11/18 so I haven’t read it yet.
- boo hoo boo boo – Perfect for toddlerhood and early preschool. Features chunkier body shapes and a wide range of skin color, including multiracial parent/child pairings and one of the three sets had a masculine-presenting caregiver. R2’s little face crumples and he empathizes with the characters when they get boo boos. After reading it, Q preferred to toss his dolls on the ground, pretend they were hurt, and nurse them back to health.
- C is for Consent – (18months to 3.5 years) Didactic and spells things out clearly, albeit with exceeding blandness.
- I Like It when (1-4.5 years)
- Clive and His Babies (1-4)
- All The World (1.5-5 years)
- Everywhere Babies (1-4.5 years)
- Littles And How They Grow (1-4.5 years)
- Daddy, Papa And Me / Mommy, Mama And Me (1-2 years)
- One Family
- Up! / Upsy Daisy, Baby!
- My Heart Fills With Happiness
- Helping Hands Series
- Baby Loves Green Energy
- Dream Big, Little One
- Feminist Baby Finds Her Voice
- Babies Around The World (1.5-4.5) Puck.
- I Like Myself (2- early elementary)
- Lovely (1-6 years)
- Happy In Our Skin (1-3.5)
- I Can Do It Too! -Baiker
- I know a lot! (1.5-3)
- Rosa Loves Dinosaurs (1-4)
- Baby Goes To Market (1.5-5 years)
- Lola At The Library (Ages 2-5)
- The Snowy Day (1 to early elementary)
- Baby’s First Words – Blackstone (1-3y)
- I Look Up To Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1-4y)