Gender Disrupted During Storytime: Critical Literacy in Early Childhood

  • Cayley Burton University of British Columbia (UBC)
Keywords: early childhood education, gender nonconformity, gender diversity, picture books, critical literacy


In Western early childhood education, cultural expectations about socially acceptable gender performance too often divide young learners along the Victorian sex-gender binary, erasing the beauty of childhood gender diversity. This essay advocates for the development of children’s gender literacy skills through the use of picture books. Building on Judith Butler’s theory of recognizability, I argue that gender is a sociocultural construct that can be actively disrupted during storytime activities. Texts featuring gender-nonconforming characters and corresponding pedagogical strategies for deconstructing gender portrayals in children’s literature are analyzed and offered in this essay.

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