24 Apr 2018

Book critic: gender in children's books

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 2:07 pm on 24 April 2018
boy reading

Photo: Pexels

Our book critic Elizabeth Heritage has been looking at gender in children's books.

She wrote a piece for The Sapling, a website about children's literature in NZ:, analysing the top 100 bestselling NZ children's books in 2017 - and it was not good news.

She's found slightly more than half of the books have male-only main characters, and for 17 of those books, not just the main characters but the entire cast is male.

Hairy Maclary and his friends are male, as are Māui and his brothers in Maui and Other Maori Legends: 8 Classic Tales of Aotearoa.

Of books in the top 100 13 percent have female-only main characters; only four of those books have an all-female cast, including The Seven Kites of Matariki.

A quarter of books (22 percent) have a mix of male and female lead characters, but she found in eight of those, male characters were dominant; while female characters were dominant in five.

Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)