Gender and Books

I was talking with my mother before I started to write this post.  My mother teaches a children’s literature class in college.  She was telling me that when she talks to her students about “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” a number of her female students will raise their hands to say they read and loved that book.  When she mentions “Hatchet” for guys almost no male students raise their hand for that book.  Girls seem to have books they read and share.  It does not seem guys are the same way.  In her opinion, girls have more books then boys.

Do I agree with her? I think I do.  In the last few years, it seems that things for children have gotten very specifically marketed for gender for boys and girls.  I worked a few book fair and it was fairly easily to pick out the books for boys and girls by just colors.  Pink, light blue, and white for girls.  Dark blue, red, black for boys.  As an example, there were counting books and instead of being gender neutral, girls got purses while boys got trucks.  That applied even for tweens.  There was a book series call “Dork Diaries” that seemed like a girl version of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”  I have seen both boys and girls read “Wimpy Kid” and I know both genders like it.  I do not see many boys reading “Dork Diaries” because the pink covers would scare them off.

To be honest, I do not think that this is a good idea.  I think that it gives an impression to boys that reading is for girls.  Boys do not read as much as they should be reading.  The people who are pushing reading are more likely to be women.  Growing up I saw both my parents reading.  They shared books with me.  I still share books with my mom and dad.  I am not sure how many boys have that experience of their fathers giving them books to read.  Who is the parent that holds out books to their kids?  I am not sure because I am not a parent, yet.

I think there is hope.  I want to close with this story.  A boy showed me the books he checked out a few days ago.  One of them was “The Hunger Games.”  He told me that he thought that Katniss was cool.  He liked her because he thought she was strong and tough.  I think boys will read books about girls and they like it when they are strong and capable.  There are books that can unite boys and girls.  I think we need to make more of those.

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