Did you know that by the age of 6, gender stereotypes have already influenced girls into thinking that boys are smarter?* Spanish writer Isabel Sanchez Vegara decided to do something to help break gender stereotypes with her children’s book series Little People BIG dreams, aimed at 5 to 8 year olds.
Written by Sanchez Vegara and Lisbeth Kaiser, the beautifully illustrated Little People BIG Dreams series of biographical books tell the stories of strong, intelligent women in history. From designer Coco Chanel, writer Agatha Christie, aviator Emilia Earhart, women’s rights activist Emeline Pankhurst, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, scientist Marie Curie, artist Frida Kahlo and poet and activist Maya Angelou, these are all women who had big dreams and overcame great obstacles to make a massive impact on the world.
Sanchez Vegara came up with the concept for the series when she was shopping for books for her twin nieces. Concerned at all the books about women waiting to be rescued by handsome princes, she decided to write the stories she wanted to tell her nieces herself.
She told the Toronto Star that “We need to break with stereotypes that stigmatize people by their gender and I hope these books are a tiny contribution.”
Sanchez Vergara worries about the impact male gender stereotypes have on kids as well, telling the Toronto Star “I think it’s great all kids discover, in the series, new women roles, but it would be even better if they could discover new male roles too. In that sense, I’d love the series to grow with the stories of extraordinary men — men who break the stereotype of the “tough, loud and courageous” hero. Men like Nelson Mandela or Rudolf Nureyev.”
When choosing who to write about, Sanchez Vergara told the Toronto Star that it's not just career accomplishments that matter. “I look for authentic and unique women with a great personality, too.”
The Little People BIG Dreams series is available to buy online from Readings and each book is priced at $19.99
*US Research published in Science Journal in 2017 found that “common stereotypes associate high-level intellectual ability (brilliance, genius, etc.) with men more than women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance (such as physics and philosophy). Here we show that these stereotypes are endorsed by, and influence the interests of, children as young as 6. Specifically, 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really, really smart.” Also at age 6, girls begin to avoid activities said to be for children who are “really, really smart.” These findings suggest that gendered notions of brilliance are acquired early and have an immediate effect on children’s interests.”