Thursday, 15 October 2009


The portrayal of gender roles in this Ladybird book from the seventies is the history I have chosen to share for Anairam's weekword choice. I love Ladybird books from the sixties and seventies-the illustrations are amazingly detailed and the subject matter has a great range. This is one of the Peter and Jane books I remember from my primary school days. They are written in a very staccato way-designed to teach children to read through repetition of key vocabulary.
Sarah wrote her blog post.
Here is the blog post Sarah wrote.
I have written a blog post, Sarah said.
Here it is.
Here's my blog post.
The style just makes me think of someone reading it in a really aggressive and increasingly hysterical manner!
This book, 'Boys And Girls' is fascinating in that it can't quite make up it's mind about where it stands on roles. On the one hand Peter and Jane are shown having similar interests-flowers, trains, apples and rabbits. On the other hand there is a clear message that men do the work up ladders and women make the tea. The last page I have shown is weird-Peter gets the apple while Mother gives Jane the cakes (plural!)
I went to the annual Early Years Conference in Greenwich last Friday and gender roles was a big theme. It is a fascinating area and I have really been thinking about it a lot this week. Today I had a conversation with three boys in the nursery and they were adamant that I could not be Ben Ten (a cartoon hero type figure) because I am a girl. In the end I asked them if there was a girl super hero I could be and they did say a name (which I didn't know) so at least there is progress. I am also interested in the way that passive behaviour from girls is not necessarily challenged.


Candace said...

Candace obsessed about the quote marks.
Where are the quote marks? Candace asked.
There are no quote marks, Candace said.
Look, Sarah.
There are no quote marks, Candace said.

But there is a card on its way! Hoorah!

And I love books like this. I have some from when I was a kid. Ah, happy simple days.
Except for that GIRL thing.
Take care!
Candace in Athens x

Mar said...

i love these reader books!...woring in the antique shop i would come across them from time to time
and i have a few that hannah has now
she is learning to read..
and children books have always the best art ranges...
great choice!

Mar said...

that was working
i can read i just can't spell

Lynne said...

An interesting post Sarah.
It is a while since I've seen these books and it's interesting to see the repetition in the vocabulary. I am trying to learn German, (for the umpteenth time) and it is the little words, (joining words) and tense that I have to think about. That probably makes it sound as though I know more than I do.
I laughed when I read that you imagine it being read in an increasingly aggressive and hysterical manner.
I agree, it is a strange mix of roles. I couldn't understand the apple and cakes thing either.
Gender stereotyping, an interesting subject.

ADonald466 said...

Hi Sarah - we both have chosen the differences in gender-related behaviour, but in quite different ways. You made me think back to my school days, when girls did knitting, sewing and cooking while the boys did woodwork and 'technical'..... Have a good weekend, love, Anne

Anonymous said...

Fear not! The kids at my school (11-18) don't have a problem with this at all. In drama they take any role they fancy regardless of gender. They also do all of the art and tech subjects across the board. Quite a few boys go on to do Child Development at GCSE level.
The only place a distinction is made is in PE. Girls do netball and boys rugby (all do football). This is really to do with being able to persue it at a competitive level and the restrictions there.
I taught my girls to read with Peter and Jane books, I love them all!

Linda Sue said...

Sarah, this made me laugh... uncomfortably...I still have a couple of my old Dick and Jane books and remember first reading them to my mother in the kitchen- always thought the plot left something to be desired and I all but banned reading until I was old enough to read good books.
these make me feel sentimental. I wonder how differently I would have grown had I had empowered images about being a girl...

Linda Sue said...

also a little bit slow getting my word up...

Maria-Thérèse said...

Very interesting also that dad says "Yes, you can help" to Peter but Jane is "a good girl". Action as opposed to being nice and sweet.

Laume said...

Things have sure changed since I was a kid, that's for sure. Of course I was distracted by the fact that Mommy and Jane were serving tea, as that would never happen in an American storybook. LOL.

Helen McCookerybook said...

Ha ha! I like the blog post Ladybird thing. I remember having The Ladybird Book of Hospitals and being frightened by a picture- you are right, very detailed- of a little girl with her leg in plaster and an extremely sinister smile on her face.
Maybe, like you, she was secretly a witch and not a little girl with her leg in plaster at all!
H xx:)

Veja cecilia said...

the illustrations are just great, I feel inspired to try and draw something like that. I can imagine it would be hard!

Anairam said...

I love these old books! Yes, pity about the gender message they convey. Well, we (of a certain age) all grew up with that. I do remember that when I went to university girls were actively discouraged from enrolling for qualifications such as architecture and engineering. Not by parents, but by the advisors at those departments. I did Computer Science & Maths instead. At least nobody tried to tell me I was too stupid/weak to do that.

aimee said...

i just now figured out that you have two blogs! and that is the post that aimee wrote...

Christina said...

love love the shoes!!

Anonymous said...

Intersting book!

Nicky Linzey said...

You and I must have gone to school at the same time! I used to love these books and yet now they shock me when I read them. Thank goodness times have changed.
It's a great post.