Let Toys Be Toys campaign is asking the toy and publishing industries to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.

Find out more about the Let Toys Be Toys campaign.

Boy and girl on a merry-go-round

‘One of each’

From the freedom of the toddler years to learning what society expects – as parent of a boy and a girl Megan Perryman explains the biggest difference between her son and her daughter… how everyone else treats them.

So my family’s now complete. I have ‘one of each’. A pretty princess with a head full of sparkles, and a rough and tumble boy with dirty knees and a cheeky grin. The next few years will be full of princesses, ponies and fairies for her, and dinosaurs, trucks, and space ships for him. Those poor families whose second child was the same gender as their first. How disappointed they must be with their clone children with completely identical interests!

Except – let’s face it – that’s not quite how it works. Read more…

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What do toys have to do with inequality?

This year, bloggers around the world are writing on the topic of inequality for Blog Action Day. Jess Day looks at how ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ toy marketing connects with the inequalities men and women face in adult life.

The UK gender pay gap stands at nearly 20%. Direct and indirect discrimination certainly haven’t gone away, but it’s widely acknowledged that much of the difference comes from the different choices men and women make, with women over-represented in low paid caring professions, and far more likely to work part time due to caring responsibilities. But how free are those choices? And what are the forces shaping them? Read more…

Picture books: girls and boys together

One of the many damaging messages shouted out by gendered marketing is that girls and boys engage in very different activities: play with different toys, read different books, do different sports, have different adventures. So, to pour water on that super-toxic message, our friends at Letterbox Library  have compiled some suggestions of picture books which will tell boys and girls the truth about themselves – that they are more alike than different and that they can all play in the same camp! Read more…

Igloo books - adventure stories for boys, classic stories for girls

How do we get more boys reading? (Clue: ‘boy books’ aren’t the answer.)

The Let Books Be Books campaign has attracted much media coverage and high profile support, but labelling books ‘for boys’ is sometimes defended as a useful tool for getting boys to read. Tricia Lowther argues that gendering reading doesn’t help literacy, and may even be harming boys’ chances.

Read more…

Big Brilliant Colouring Book for Boys, Big Beautiful Colouring Book for Girls - photo: @CratesNRibbons

Letter to Buster Books

Buster Books, the children’s imprint of Michael O’Mara Books, is one of the biggest publishers of gender-labelled children’s titles, including ‘The Big Brilliant Colouring Book for Boys’ and the ‘Big Beautiful Colouring Book for Girls’. We wrote to Michael O’Mara to explain why it’s time to Let Books Be Books, but we haven’t yet had a reply.

Michael O’Mara responded to the launch of the Let Books Be Books campaign in a comment to the Independent back in March, saying that gender-specific titles are ‘easier to sell’. We don’t think profits justify telling children what they should or shouldn’t like. Read more…

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Letter to Igloo books

Igloo Books are among the biggest publishers of gender-labelled children’s books in the UK, with titles like ’2001 Pretty Stickers for Girls’ and or the Story Time Treasury: ‘Stories for Boys’ containing “classic adventures, from Aladdin to Jack and the Beanstalk” (shame these are off limits for girls)… We wrote to them back in May, but we’re still waiting for a reply.

Read more…

Montage of boys and girls book covers

Let Books Be Books campaign update

Since we launched the Let Books Be Books campaign in March we’ve seen major publishers confirm that they will no longer publish titles labelled ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’.  So who’s still holding out for gendered marketing, and where next for the campaign?

Read more…

Let Toys Be Toys shop

New Let Toys Be Toys Shop

We’re delighted to launch the new Let Toys Be Toys online shop with a range of products: clothing for children and grown-ups, badges, bags, mugs and more.

Two original designs are available: the familiar Let Toys Be Toys logo, and also a new design created especially for the campaign, by artist Squid. We love the designs and hope you do too.  Read more…

Chwarae Teg - Agile nation

Fair Foundations – fair play in the classroom

Laura Davies of Welsh organisation Chwarae Teg (Fair Play) explains the importance of their work with schools to promote gender equality in the classroom.

“A father and son are out cycling together. Suddenly a lorry thunders past, knocking the son off his bike. He is rushed to hospital. In the operating theatre, on seeing the boy the surgeon exclaims: “I can’t operate on this child, he is my son!”

Did you have a moment of surprise? And did you feel a little foolish afterwards? Read more…

Two children in school uniform walking holding hands with a man.

Let Toys Be Toys launches resources for schools

As a new term starts, Let Toys Be Toys are launching resources for teachers who want to challenge gender stereotypes in the classroom.

Children are keen to fit in and quickly pick up ideas about what’s supposedly ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’, but stereotyped ideas can limit their aspirations and opportunities.

Many toys and books are marketed as being for one sex or the other and children may worry if their favourite toys or hobbies challenge these stereotypical ideas. Parents and carers are often concerned that children who challenge these norms will be teased or bullied.

The Let Toys Be Toys campaign has been approached by parents and teachers highlighting problems in this area. So we’ve worked with teachers to develop resources to help schools tackle these issues in the classroom.  Visit the new Let Toys Be Toys schools pages. Read more…

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