Monday, February 24, 2014


In studying gender equality in reading lately, I've been examining and questioning how I let gender influence the books that I recommend--and I've come to some interesting conclusions. I wholeheartedly agree on the following things: 
-There are some issues with gender-specific marketing. Why should some books only be marketed to boys, and others to girls? This can influence readers to a great extent--not always a good thing.
-Boys can and do read books marketed for girls or starring female protagonists. They can and should read books that deal with emotional issues--books which sometimes are unfortunately labeled as "girly".
-Reluctant girl readers are underrepresented, especially seeing how much attention reluctant boy readers are given. 
BUT. If you've had any exposure to middle school and older aged kids, you know for certain that at those ages, boys and girls are just different. Biologically even (those poor things and all their hormones). This is probably obvious, but boy readers and girl readers at those ages are wildly different too, especially if they've been classified or see themselves as non-readers.

We can find some fault with societal gender typing, which may change over time with the admirable efforts of writers and readers . . . but it would be sad to miss an opportunity today to get a good book in the hands of a reluctant reader. Reluctant boy readers often reach for books about war, humor, sports, zombies, sports, survival scenarios, biographies, and sports. While it does happen, they're unlikely to venture into Pretty Little Liars territory. So, while making all types of books available to all, it's necessary to allow gender to influence some of the books you recommend. 

The bottom line is this: when finding a book for a reader (reluctant or not) connect them with a book that appeals to their interests and passions. If a boy absolutely loves war stories and combat, don't hesitate to hand him Lone Survivor, but maybe also hand him Divergent. If a girl loves romance stories, give her The Fault In Our Stars, but maybe also Hostage Three. Appeal to their interests, but also use your mighty power in selecting books that can also broaden their perspectives, and introduce them to new tastes.

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