Friday, April 4, 2014

Good books for young human beings...

I have been thinking a bit on the whole genderisation of children's books issue as this was recently doing the social media rounds, with bookshops and reviewers overseas declining to stock/review children's books marketed specifically to one gender. As radical as this seems I think I agree with the idea. We need more books for boys, I hear all too often. Boys might decline to read books with pink, or sparkles, or pictures of girls on the cover and yet often girls couldn't give a toss what's on the cover if they are interested in the book, whether its blue or depicts a machine or something 'manly' or whatever seems cool for boys to publishers/marketers/promoters etc.... Because deep down many girls never learn to judge a book this way and yet many boys do. And I don't believe it's because girls are innately more tolerant or broader minded - I think we consciously or (more likely) subconsciously tell boys that reading girl-centric stories is an embarrassing thing for boys to do.

I don't think boys are hardwired genetically to reject images of girls on book covers, or things that shine or are pink. Where is the evolutionary value in that? How can it be a bad idea to read a story that might be centered on the opposite gender which makes up around half the population? Wouldn't our boys be better off reading about girls as well as boys? Wouldn't our boys be better citizens as adults if they read stories more widely across the genders? Shouldn't we take some responsibility for why boys think this way? We are concerned about sexual harassment, sexual crimes and the gender imbalance and yet we continue to push for books for boys. I didn't stop to ask if it was a boy book or a girl book when I was reading as a youngster. Covers of children's and teens books were generally unisex when I was growing up. Why did we change this? I do my best to just write good stories, yet I too have fallen into the trap of suggesting  my titles might be better for one gender or the other. I'm going to work hard to change this. My books are good books for young human beings. End of story.

1 comment:

Jane Bloomfield said...

Good food for thought here Melinda, thank you. I hope boys read Judy Moody & Clarice Bean? Yet that 'girly Junior Fiction' is a genre in itself, is it not? One I've tried to get a piece of...sighs...