Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Girl Books and Boy Books

   A while back, Amazon sent a range of suggestions for books by types of readers. Under "books for girls" was The Hunger Games

   Under normal circumstances, I would expect "books for girls" to be books no one expects boys to be interested in. I really don't think that's the case with The Hunger Games. I can't see how it could have sold as many copies as it has if guys weren't interested in the book too. Especially since the plot descriptions sound like something many guys I knew back in school would have loved. {Smile}

   I suspect I know what the problem is. Publishers, librarians, teachers, and apparently booksellers who study what children read have been telling each other "boys will only read books about boys, but girls will read books about girls or boys" long enough they believe that's the deciding factor when kids pick books.

   That may sound good, but the kids I know, and knew, and the girl I remember being myself didn't care as much about gender as about what the characters did. If they liked mysteries, boys would check out Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls as well as the Hardy Boys. If they liked fantasy, they wouldn't skip the middle book of the Earthsea Trilogy. And so on.

   Then I wonder if I'm wrong. I'm up against a pretty large and well-educated group, and my personal opinion fights some of my own education on the subject. So I'd really like to know what you think about this, too. {Hopeful Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


  1. Igh. My ipad ate my original comment.

    I had a male boss not long ago who liked reading romance novels. Likewise, I bet there are plenty of boys out there willing to read "girl" novels. I think that maxim is directed at younger boys who, after all, think girls have cooties. Kind of.

    And I bet The Hunger Games is popular with both boys and girls.

  2. Losing a comment can be frustrating. {Sympathetic Smile}

    I think you've mentioned that boss before. He sounds familiar. {Smile}

    They aren't applying it only to little boys. Besides, I knew boys who didn't want to hang out with most girls, but were perfectly happy to read Nancy Drew. {pause}

    I remember when a professor mentioned this in graduate school. The professor was entirely sold on the idea. One of my male classmates was vociferously and vehemently Not Happy At All with it. He'd been a reader as a kid, and he'd never refused to read a book just because it was about a girl. He insisted he'd been perfectly happy reading about a girl "as long as she did intersting things." Our prof. Eventually grated that maybe it was true for him, but he'd been an unusual boy. Yeah; sure. Him, and the two to three male classmates I noticed quietly nodding their heads in the background while he spoke out, and Dad, who I asked about this on the way home, and a couple of handfuls of guys I asked later, including a few guys I know online, two of Dad's former coworker's, and the young son of one of those coworkers who was maybe late elementary or early intermediate school, so not out of the age range normally expected. I haven't found a guy who didn't agree with my classmate yet.

    I suppose you could argue that's only for dedicated readers, not for guys who rarely crack anything beyond Harry Potter or whatever the latest great thing is. However, I expect most of those aren't missing The Hunger Games either. It sounds like the kind of book many gusy would like. {Chuckle, Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  3. One of my brothers doesn't care -he'll read either. My youngest brother doesn't like to admit it if he enjoys something he considers `girly'. I think it's mostly because he feels like we all see him as younger than he actually is, and doesn't want to encourage us. (I've finally gotten over the shock of my baby brother having a beard, but it took awhile.)

  4. Okay. I understand the brother who doesn't care easily enough. {Smile}

    However, do you know if your younger brother consider books "girly" just because they're about girls? Or does he make the decision based on other characteristics? For instance The Hunger Games, which really was on Amazon's list of "Books for Girls" before Christmas, is about a girl in a dystopic future who becomes a contestant in a series of fights to the death. I didn't think that was girly, despite being about a girl, but Amazon apparently disagrees. {lop-sided smile}

    A friend elsewhere mentioned Tamora Pierces's books. There is one that's about a guy who's learning to be a mage, but the rest are about girls. The girls are becoming mages, a spy, a police officers, or knights. Is that girly? {raise eyebrows}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin