I know some readers absolute love the pink, and the sparkly and the fluffy, but I’d be delighted to see the back of gendered books. I have followed Twitter campaigns such as #LetToysBeToys and #LetBooksBeBooks with interest – and applauded, when Usborne and Ladybird for example, removed ‘For Girls’ and ‘For Boys’ from their titles.
Now there’s movement on the book design, including colours. Hoorah. Let’s celebrate every hint of an end to this segregation.
Perhaps it’s some bizarre misreading of Freud, the idea that boys’ bits will fall off if they so much as touch anything ‘girly’ – but the othering of half our world strikes me as horrible for both girls and boys. And even if you believe girls and boys are fundamentally different, surely you’d want them to at least read about the opposite gender* and not feel uncomfortable whilst doing so.
I assume it was some form of Market Segmentation idea that led to this deliberate ghettoisation of boy and girl books. You could spilt up the readership groups and sell more – like divide-and-conquer.
Well happily, many forthright people literally aren’t buying that – and are telling the publishers so. Children’s literature is not like deodorant ( though I’m not keen on even that being gendered). It makes a difference what young people read – and gendering books limits choices for all readers.
- small children have their books chosen for them
- well-meaning (or otherwise) adults will select by apparent gender if it’s blatant
- older children may choose their own but…
- only brave souls will go against their family or peer group expectations
Let’s break that self-fulfilling prophecy cycle. We know #PicturesMeanBusiness , that the look of a book matters. Let’s encourage our publishers to move away from pink/blue shelves
- if you’re a book-blogger mention the appearance – does it exclude or welcome different readers? ( I do nowadays – and not just for gender)
- if you’re on GoodReads please do let them know what you, or better still the child reader, thought
- you can do the same if invited to give customer feedback by a retailer