I was trying to find an image to add to this post, so I searched, “Children’s Books” and the first option that popped up was “for girls”. The seventh suggestion was “for boys”.
Curious, I clicked on the “for girls” to see what popped up. I was bombarded with one color- Pink. Every single book was drowning in pink. So I switched over to the “for boys” to compare. There wasn’t a noticeable color choice for the covers, but something did stand out to me- There was a distinct increase in the distinction between “boy books” and “girl books”, meaning books were specifically labeled “for boys” or “for girls”. This ranged from coloring books to potty training books to a variety of Middle Grade novels.
So why is it that books have to be separated for boys and for girls? Why is it that books for girls have to be distinguished by bright pink covers? Why do we judge kids if they pick a book we wouldn’t necessarily pick for them?
Growing up, my nose was always in a book. Always. I have been carrying books around with me for longer than I can remember. Seriously, I don’t go anywhere without a book. But I had sisters who refused to read. They did not enjoy books in any way, shape, or form. Until Harry Potter books found their way into our home. Gradually, my sisters started to read more and more books, and never really stopped.
I only mention this because I bought my sister a book for her birthday last week. It was a book she had asked for, but I never would’ve picked this book out for anyone in a million years. It was some gushy romance novel about a female law school graduate who couldn’t find a job until she was hired by a handsome millionaire to work as his secretary (or something like that). I read the back of the book and started laughing because it was so ridiculous.
But I bought it and gave it to her anyway. Why? Because I’m so happy that my sister still enjoys reading, and I wouldn’t want to do anything to get in the way of that. If she wants to read some cheesy romance that makes me want to vomit, then go ahead! At least she’s reading!
In the meantime, I’m going to continue with Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series. And you know what my sister said to me when she asked what I was reading? She said, “That sounds like something I can skip.” But was I offended? Not really. Because we’re both reading books that we enjoy.
I’m not going to tell my sister that she can’t read a book because it’s not something I would pick out. So why do we treat children like that? They’re still people who are free to choose for themselves what they do and do not enjoy.
My last blog post was a bit misunderstood, so I’m going to clarify right now that I am not saying boys have to enjoy girl books and girls have to enjoy boy books. I’m saying that everyone is entitled to choose for themselves what books to read. Husband of Mine enjoys romance subplots. He’s a total romantic. And you know what? I love that about him because it taught him to be more intuitive toward me. But not everything he reads has romance. He enjoys a variety of stories, as should all people.
He is entitled to choose for himself what stories he enjoys. As am I. As is everyone. Stories for all is about not judging anyone for their choice in literature. We should not worry about what people are reading, we should only worry that they are reading.
(Infographic from Boone County Public Library)