Discussion: Gendering Books

October 3, 2017     erinthebooknut     Discussion, Feature

*repeated headdesking*

Nothing raises my blood pressure and brings about the BOOK RAGE more than hearing a parent tell a kid they can’t read something because is for the “wrong” gender.

Let me tell you a story. I’ve told this once or twice on Twitter because every time it happens I get mad but I’m going to repeat it here.

Several months ago I was in my used bookstore browsing the YA section as I am known to do when a little boy comes over with his baby brother. He crouches down next to me and grabs a copy of Princess Diaries, squealing with happiness and racing over to his mother. She frowns at him, takes the book out of his hands, and goes to put it back.

“That’s a girl book,” she says, shoving the book BACKWARD onto the shelf. “Pick something else.”

You guys. I have rarely seen red like I did that day. The look on this little boy’s face was pure dejection, and his smaller brother starts teasing him about being a girl.

I wanted to go up to this woman and tell her how wrong she was. I wanted to buy that book for the little boy. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to get into a confrontation with this woman or swear in front of her kids.

The boy left without a single book. There was nothing else he wanted.

Listen to me right now. Books are not gendered. Unless you need to use your genitals to operate something, it is not gender specific. Boy books and girl books do not exist. Boys can read Princess Diaries or Sarah Dessen books. Girls can read Iron Man and Artemis Fowl. As a kid I read pretty much all of what would be considered “boy books” by these people. There is nothing wrong with this.

Guess what, you kid wants to read. Congratulations on raising an awesome, literate child. Don’t crush that by telling them they can’t read a book because its for girls or for boys. Be happy they want to read. Say “good job choosing that book,” and move on.

I want want to see that look on a kid’s face again, but I know I will. That kid just got his desire to read crushed by his mom. I wish I would have bought him that book.

How do you feel about the gendering of books? Share your thoughts in the comments.

From my shelf to yours,

Erin

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