Introducing the Gender Equality Charter (GEC) Best Books list

The Gender Equality Charter (GEC)

The Gender Equality Charter (GEC) was founded by Cat Wildman (@catwildman2000) and Nicole Ponsford (@nicoleponsford). The GEC is all about creating ‘native gender equals’ through UK homes, schools and businesses. Action starts with achieving gender equality in schools. In signing the Gender Equality Charter, and working towards being awarded a badge of equality, schools are making a visible and public commitment to working towards equality in their institution. Watch their introductory video at:

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Image credit: Dogs don't do Ballet // Sara Ogilvie. Image credit: Dogs don't do Ballet // Sara Ogilvie.

As Sir Tim Berners-Lee noted, “The original idea of the web was that it should be a collaborative space where you can communicate through sharing information.” The internet is a place designed for humans to connect. Those who know me (Nicole Ponsford) know that collaboration and celebration are my jam. Over the last decade, I’ve been fortunate to be part of and create a range of online communities - from my new startup, The Gender Equality Charter (GEC), my new #Edtech50-winning WomenEdTechers (the digital side to WomenEd), to those first few curriculum-based blogs I did as an NQT. I have learnt a few things along the journey, but there is one thing that stands out.

An online community really needs a shared purpose. A focus.

Back in the offline world (or the real world, as you may call it), I started to focus on books. While avoiding another WBD-inspired / last minute Primary school outfit for my son, I was looking for some new children’s books. Books were everywhere. And so were stereotypes. Females who needed saving, and boys as heroes. I started to look for some books with a purpose. With a better message. Where were they? It seems that I wasn’t the only one asking questions. Seemingly, our children’s books mirror the gender inequality of our own, non-fictional lives. This recent video illustrates the horror story for those who might not be on the same page.

YouTube link

As a library-loving mama of a boy who isn’t interested in fighting and of b/g twins, I know of the real ‘adventure’ that many parents and teachers are faced with when it comes to just choosing a book these days. To find a ‘different type of hero’, or a book that has a sophisticated vocabulary - without grownup themes - can be the ultimate quest for a child that just wants to read a book.

So, who to turn to? Who do we now turn to when we want answers? The web. I decided to share this narrative with my new GEC community - with a focus on solving the gender gap through books. I asked them to share what they thought were the best books around. And oh boy (/girl), did they! As part of our #smashingstereotypes campaign, we received photos, nominations and descriptions of what they did for their (snowy / postponed) World Book Days. We even did a competition with our partners, Knights Of, for grownups to have a go at writing their own book too!

Our brilliant community tweeted, shared and messaged themselves silly.

We were going to have just 10 but we were completely inundated, so we now have categories! So, here is the GEC Best Books list - to share with your community - be it your PLN, your students, your peers or your parents! All of the books are recommended by those who are seeking gender-equality for their children. A pretty good cause, I would say.

Girls as Heroes

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

I Know a Woman: The Inspiring Connections Between the Women who Have Shaped Our World, Kate Hodges
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, Rachel Ignotofsky
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World, Kate Pankhurst
The Paper Bag Princess, Robert Munsch
Zog and The Flying Doctors, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
The Phantom Lollipop Man, Pamela Butchart
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
Ms Marvel (graphic novel)
The Alphabet Book, Stephanie Green

Boys and Worries

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet, Anna Kemp
Kevin, Rob Biddulph
William’s Doll, Charlotte Zolotow
Walter and the No-Need-To-Worry Suit, Rachel Bright
Jonathan James and The WhatIf Monster, Michelle Nelson-Schmidt
Baking With Dad, Aurora Cacciapuoti
My Princess Boy, Cheryl Kilodavis


Zita The Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

The Roman Quests, Caroline Lawrence
Harry Potter, JK Rowling
Porridge the Tartan Cat, Alan Dapre
Arthur, the Unlikeliest of Heroes, Joe Todd-Stanton
Zita The Spacegirl, Ben Hatke
Pearl Power (including Pearl Power and The Girl With Two Dads), Mel Elliott
Reeve & McIntyre productions, including Jinks & O'Hare Funfair Repair

Grown Up Books

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please, Amy Poehler
Everyday Sexism: The Project that Inspired a Worldwide Movement, Laura Bates
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg
How Not To Be A Boy, Robert Webb
The Gender Agenda, Ros Ball and James Millar (GEC Steering Group)

Heads UP! GEC Exclusives!

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brookes and Quinton Winter

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different, Ben Brookes and Quinton Winter (GEC partner for #SmashingStereotypes and our pilot scheme)
Dads Don't Babysit: Towards Equal Parenting, James Millar (GEC)

What would you add?

Please get in touch and share with us. I am sure Sir Tim would be thrilled if you did. By the way, I should say that these books are great for boys and girls alike!

Further Reading on Gender Equality and Books

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