Gender-skewed books – what do you think?

Nosy Crow’s blog has been busy lately – a couple of authors and Nosy Crow got busy chatting about gender and girl books vs. boys’ books and it pretty much EXPLODED from there.

See the blog posts here and here

Now, I don’t want to say too much on this, because I think it’s been said much better and more eloquently in the two posts above, but I can’t help wondering…. If the problem is the book covers skew it so  that this becomes a book for girls and that a book for boys, what happens when the covers don’t matter anymore? What happens when you get loads of people reading on Kindles or iPads, and no one else can see what book you’re reading? Would you still be embarrassed to be a boy reading a book with a teenage girl on the front? Or a girl reading a book about army soldiers?

I must admit I avoid pink books like the plague. Pink to me screams BARBIE! and her revolving life of convertibles/clothes/mansions/parties, where everything is handed to her on a platter. Somehow, ‘boys books’ don’t seem so… empty… to me; the soldiers or diggers or dinosaurs on the front remind me of history/heroes/skills, something worthwhile instead of just nice to look at. I really shouldn’t judge like this though, because one of the best books I’ve ever read is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781846165993
Published: 4/1/2007

Look how pink it is! And yet the narrator is male, and the story is something I could see a boy reading…. if only it weren’t so pink! I have tried to recommend this book to teenage boys before but to no avail – one look at the cover and you can just see them mentally tuning you out and going ‘lalala’ in their head.And if you are a teenage boy reading this blog, I’d love to know whether your internal ‘lalala’ started up as soon as that cover hove into view 🙂

But what if I took away the pink cover, put it on an iPad and handed it over? I wonder if the story alone would then make a boy interested in reading it?

Equally, if I popped this book on an eReader, would girls be happier to be reading it with no one to see the cover?

Publisher: Nosy Crow Ltd
ISBN: 9780857630940
Published: 5/5/2011

True it’s a picturebook, so perhaps at that age you don;t get so much teasing in the classroom, but actually, it really might not be such a problem – it seems to be easier to be a girl reading boys books, than a boy reading girls books. I wonder why that is? Anyone with any clues please do pipe up because I’d love to know!

But yes, with the rise of eReading and now the news on popular blog The Digital Reader that almost 50% of US high school students either have a tablet or smartphone, I wonder how long it’ll be before we gets kids reading across the gender divide? Should I start adding a tag for ‘books that you secretly really want to read even though you’re a *insert gender here*’? What do you think?

Find Stargirl here
Find Dinosaur Dig here

BooKa Uhu makes no claim for the contents of the websites in this blog post – she’s not the author and she didn’t write the articles on them. She just liked the information there.


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