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Despite what can seem like a profusion of heroines in kids’ books, girls are still underrepresented in children’s literature. A 2011 study of almost 6,000 children’s books published between 1900 and 2000 showed that only 31 percent had female central characters. … More insidiously, children’s books with female protagonists sometimes celebrate their heroine to a fault. Isn’t it amazing that a girl did these things, they seem to say—implying that these heroines are a freakish exception to their gender, not an inspiration for readers to follow.

When her daughter insists that Tolkien’s hobbit Bilbo Baggins be reimagined as a girl, Slate's Michelle Nijhuis looks at the gendered state of children’s literature.

A few heartening exceptions here, here, and here.

Meanwhile, Tolkien himself admonished against the very notion of “children’s literature.”

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