Books for boys who dare to be different

Children’s books are jam-packed with gender stereotypes. Boys play football, fight dragons, get into trouble and marry princesses. If you want to offer the boys in your life a slightly wider choice of role models, it’s a good idea to seek out books which go against the grain. Especially if they are feeling a bit of an odd-one-out.

Here’s my selection of brilliant books that offer diverse male role models and emphasise the positives in taking a different route from everyone else.

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different (by Ben Brooks) is the go-to book for counter-stereotypical stories about men and boys. It’s packed with 100 inspiring stories about real men from every walk of life (famous and not-so-famous) who were rule-breakers and innovators and who achieved success in ways that don’t conform to narrow versions of masculinity. Every home should have a copy. You could also check out The Good Guys: 50 Heroes Who Changed the World with Kindness (by Rob Kemp).

Biff is not like other dogs. He doesn’t chase sticks or pee on lampposts. Biff doesn’t even think he’s a dog, he thinks he’s a ballerina. But dogs don’t do ballet, or do they? Dogs don’t do Ballet (by Anna Kemp) is a sweet, genuinely funny book about having a dream and aspiring to something that other people say isn’t possible. Great illustrations, perfect for 3-5 year-olds, will be loved by boys and girls alike!

I love Eddie’s Kitchen: and How to Make Good Things to Eat (by Sarah Garland) for the simple reason that it’s all about a boy who cooks, helps out in the kitchen and does the washing up. How many children’s books can you think of that show that? (I just wish Eddie had been helped by his dad in the kitchen rather than his mum). And if your children are inspired to get cooking, it also contains real recipes for proper meals! Sometimes, challenging gender stereotypes is as simple as just normalising the alternatives…..

Thunder Boy Jr (by Sherman Alexie) is all about identity. It tells the story of a young boy’s search for what defines him as different from his dad. The father-son relationship is beautifully depicted – this is a son who loves his dad but doesn’t want to be the same as him. A son who wants to forge his own way in the world. Absolutely enchanting text and illustrations, a real thought provoker.

Strictly No Elephants (by Lisa Mantchev) is all about not fitting in. About arbitrary rules that don’t make sense and which exclude pet elephants (and their little boy owners). It’s about overcoming disappointment and exclusion and finding a way to create your own club where pet elephants (and their little boy owners) are welcome. A lovely lyrical read with sweet illustrations and a clear inclusion theme.


Have I missed out your favourite book? Please do let me know by leaving a comment below and I will be sure to check it out! Not found what you are looking for? Check out these Books for helping children manage friendship problems or Best books for raising empathetic boys. For reluctant readers, how about these Books to make boys love reading. Or, for girls, try these Books for raising confident girls.

Found this helpful? Sign up for newsletters for more practical parenting inspiration.

This is not a sponsored post, I chose these books because I honestly recommend them. But it does contain affiliate links which means that if you click through from this post and buy the book on Amazon, I will receive a small fee. For more details, see my Disclosure Notice.

Please share:

2 thoughts on “Books for boys who dare to be different

  1. D.

    I have a 2-year-old girl who has now for months loved two unrelated books that we randomly found in the library together that would both fit the bill here. One is more obviously about countering gender stereotypes and is called “Jamie Is Jamie: A Book about Being Yourself and Playing Your Way.” The other one, “Bilal Cooks Daal,” on the face is more about cultural differences, not about gender stereotypes, but now I realize it also does THAT! (The little boy’s dad is the one cooking the daal all day and teaching the kids the recipe for it and why it’s so good. Female shoes are shown on the shoe-rack in one of the pictures and my girl loves to make up different things the mom is doing since she’s not home for the duration of the story.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.