Lessons Learned In Combat, Literacy

How to Tell If a Book is For Boys or Girls: A Guide

Last week, I found this fantastic infographic by communications designer Kristen Meyers and immediately posted it on both Facebook and Twitter:

Source: Huffington Post


Then I remembered this story I’d read recently about author Shannon Hale (Princess Academy, Austenland), who recently posted on her Tumblr page about her appalling experience visiting a school a few weeks ago. She wrote about it at length here, but then also tweeted about the fact that at this school, her books were deemed as appealing to “girls only” due to their female protagonists:

The overwhelming response from her over 16,000 Twitter followers sounded a little like this: “Wait–what?”

A justified outcry ensued. Then two weeks later–just this week, in fact– another outcry occurred over YA novelist Andrew Smith’s answer to an interview question that pointed to the perception that “there isn’t much of a way into [his] books for female readers” due to a dearth of female characters in his work. (You can find the brief interview here.) Accusations of Smith being an ignorant misogynist, as well as fervent objections from his supporters, clogged the Twitter feeds of nearly every literacy educator and YA book lover. (Smith has since deleted all of his social media accounts.)

Books “for boys,” books “for girls”…can we all just cut the shit, please?

I mean it. Cut. The. Shit. Just like there are no “boy toys” and “girl toys” (despite most large toy chains’ insistence on perpetuating this ridiculous myth), there are no books that are–or that should be–considered exclusively for girls or for boys. Unless, of course, you’re an ignorant jackass.

But we all know that ignorant jackasses abound, don’t we? So in the spirit of philanthropy and my new mentor Kristen Meyers, I decided to create a handy-dandy guide to help all of the ignorant jackasses out there tell if a book is, in fact, for a girl or for a boy.


Books for boys or girls?

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