Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Girls won't spoil the story....

I read this terrific article and wanted to shout 'hallelujah, it's not just me!!' I have long thought that there is something inherently wrong in providing books strictly for boys, to boys. Books with boys as the central protagonist, doing 'boy' stuff in a world of adventure and action and mayhem. 'We need more books for boys,' goes the battle cry. Write something boys will like. And somehow that has included an absence of girls. WE have given girls cooties, in the stories we offer to boys. And books about girls? WE have deemed them toxic to boys. I think in our desperation to get boys reading we made it too much about gender, to our detriment. To society's detriment.  Because in doing so we gave them, between the lines, the message that reading about girls is uncool, and/or embarrassing, and/or unnecessary. And I think this doesn't help anyone. In fact it is has become harmful. Females make up more than half the world's population. How can it be a good idea to tell the other half that females aren't included in the cool stuff. That they can't be brave or resourceful, the problem solver or the hero (and that they don't have to behave like a boy to be any of those things). How can it be a good idea to tell boys that girls aren't even worth reading about. That they'll spoil the story. That they always need rescuing and will reward their rescuer. That they can't be interesting in their own right. Or on their own. We have shot ourselves in the foot and I am tired of hopping around. Stop trying to find a boy book for that boy to read. Just find them a good book. We need to change our posture and vocabulary when we talk about books with boys. We need to stop genderising covers and that goes for 'books for girls' as well - because what matters is what's between the covers. We need to read stories about girls to boys at every level. We need to show them that a story doesn't have to revolve around a boy to be a great read. They should read widely. Like so many girls do. And we need to do the same for diversity. I know this will take generations to change.  But we better start yesterday and stop digging the hole that we have dug so deep.

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