Monday, March 25, 2013

"Girl" books vs. "Boy" books

As I've been reading different books toward my goal of reading all the Newbery books, it's struck me that some of the books are definitely "girl" books aimed at a female audience and some are definitely "boy" books.

For example, the one I'm currently reading The Sign of the Beaver is about a boy in the wilderness of Maine trying to survive.  Definitely a BOY book.
The Sign of the Beaver

By contrast, the book I finished reading yesterday, A Ring of Endless Light  was definitely a GIRL book.  The main character is a girl and she's trying to sort out her feelings towards three different boys.
A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #5)

That isn't to say that all books with girls as the main character are girl books and ones with male characters are boy books.  In fact, I can think of one popular book with a boy as the main character that seems to be equally liked by both boys and girls

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

And also this book:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I don't know if it's the fantasy aspect or if it's because there's an ensemble cast of characters but I see girls and boys picking up both of the above series.

This all started when I was lamenting to my husband about how in grade school, I was forced to read "boy" books all the time.  I was a good reader and had no problems reading stuff on my own but I really hated most of the books that we read in school.  My husband pointed out that in his day (back in the 70s), he had to mostly read "girl" books and the pendulum seemed to have swung the other way by the time I was in grade school in the 90s.  His theory was that girls are more apt to read "boy" books than boys are to read "girl" books.  While I don't think that it's really fair to the girls, I would say that it's an accurate assessment. 

What makes a "girl" or "guy" book? 

Where the Red Fern Grows  Boy + Dogs + Hunting = Yeah, it's a boy book (but I like it actually)

My Side of the Mountain (Mountain, #1)  Boy + Hawk + Survival + Woods = Another boy book (I like it too)

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret  Girl + Puberty + Other girls + School = Girl book

Twilight (Twilight, #1)  Girl + Boy + Sparkly Vampires + Romance = Girl book

My solution to this whole debacle?  How about some student choice?  Let the kids pick what they want to read from a list.  Would have saved me a bunch of headaches in grade school (for the record, I was a straight A student, I just despised reading class when we weren't reading something that interested me).

1 comment:

  1. It IS true, at least at the moment, that girls are more likely to read boy things than vice versa. Is it fair? No, not really.

    Student choice works from a student's perspective -- but you're a teacher, too. How do you teach that, then? How do you test for knowledge? If there's some way to make it work, awesome! I, as a not-teacher-trained-person, don't see how it would work, though.

    In high school, we got to choose between 1984 and Brave New World. That worked -- but it's the only time I remember ever having a choice!


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