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ERI Talk - Dalila Forni: "Reading picturebooks beyond gender stereotypes"

  • October 1st, 2022
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November 11, 2022. 12:00h. Online session. Language: English.

Reading picturebooks beyond gender stereotypes

Dalila Forni

University of Florence (Italy)


The talk presents two connected research projects on the topic of gender models in contemporary picturebooks for young readers. Children's literature has a strong influence, especially in the earliest years of life, on our perception of what is culturally acceptable or possible. Stories shape our social imagination and thus encourage (or break) strict gender standards, which usually categorize masculine and feminine identities into two opposing poles. Consequently, it is essential from early childhood to offer high-quality literature capable of going beyond social standards, so as to valorise the abilities and dispositions of each individual without labels and limitations. The research starts from a doctoral study on the topic of picturebooks deconstructing gender stereotypes. The study explored more than one hundred Italian picturebooks directly or indirectly addressing the subject and highlighted those stereotypes that persisted even in the most sensitive books. As a follow-up to the theoretical study, a project was launched in Italy, specifically in Tuscany, in collaboration with nurseries and schools. The project worked on readings beyond stereotypes involving children aged 2-6. Its aim was to support educators and teachers in choosing and reading inclusive books, for instance collectively creating reading strategies to make different identities visible.



Dalila Forni, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow in Education at University of Florence, Italy. Her research interests include Children’s Literature, and mostly visual narratives for different ages, and Gender Studies. She has recently published a volume entitled: Raccontare il genere. Nuovi modelli identitari nell’albo illustrato [Narrating gender: new identity models in picturebooks] (Unicopli, Milan, 2022).