Author: GLE Team | Published on 1 October 2023


'Short Story Writing' is a writing activity in which learners write a narrative based on their own context. 

Stage 1: Starter

Watch the video or read aloud the transcript and key facts if the video is not accessible - ‘The Ugly Truth About Children’s Books’. What are learners’ thoughts/feelings/comments after watching this? Can they relate to the frustration of books not including characters or contexts similar to theirs? 

Stage 2

Explain that students will write a short story with their home as the setting and characters that come from their backgrounds. This could be a retelling of a local tale/folk tale, an actual event that has taken place in their community, or they can rewrite a classic story with a change in setting/characters. Encourage learners to think about the gender roles in their story – can they challenge these? For example, in their story is the female cooking the dinner and the male going to work? Does the female need rescuing and the male saving her? As an additional challenge, ask learners to try to challenge these stereotypes within their writing. 

Stage 3

Give learners 30 minutes or as long as you think is needed to plan their story. After this time, ask for learners to volunteer to share their plot, setting and characters. Offer any feedback or gain feedback from other learners about whether this is combatting the ‘ugly truth about children’s books’.  

Stage 4

Give learners an additional 30 minutes or longer to write.

Stage 5

On completion of the task, you could collate the stories written by all the students to have a class book of stories that reflect them. 

Gender Responsive Notes: Ensure gender neutral language throughout; ensure answers are taken from a variety of learners; the opportunity to discuss any decisions based on gender stereotypes applied during the story writing.


Gender Stereotypes: a generalised view or preconception about attributes or characteristics, or the roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed by, women and men. A gender stereotype is harmful when it limits learners’ capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their education opportunities, professional careers and/or make choices about their lives. For example, it is a common stereotype that men should be confident and aggressive, and women are quieter and passive. 

Gender Norms: ideas, standards and expectations to which women and men generally conform and how they should act within a range that defines a particular society, culture and community at that point in time. They are often internalised early in life; gender norms can establish a life cycle of gender socialisation and stereotyping. For example, a gender norm might be that boys play football and girls watch. 

Gender Bias: Prejudiced actions or thoughts based on the gender-based perception that women are not equal to men in rights and dignity.

Gender Representation: The way men and women are described or portrayed. Frequently gendered representations associate the concepts of femininity and masculinity with popular stereotypes, but also present role models that men and women should look up to or get inspiration from.

Gender Neutral Language: language that avoids bias towards a particular sex or gender. In English, this includes use of nouns that are not gender-specific to refer to roles or professions, formation of phrases in a coequal manner, and discontinuing the blanket use of male or female addressing a group as “everyone” rather than saying, “Hey, guys, and adapting gendered terms such as businessman to business person instead.

Want to know more about the GLE Team?

In a groundbreaking initiative, the British Council, under the English Connects programme, undertook a transformative mission to champion gender-inclusive practices in Sub-Saharan Africa with a cohort of 41 dedicated teacher educators and teachers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan. This dynamic group referred to as the GLE Team worked together to design this resource.

Read about our Creating Gender Pedagogy Resources for Teachers project:

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