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12 August 2016 @ 08:03 am
Boy Books, Girl Books?  
Last year at the ALAN Workshop, Libba Bray delivered a powerful keynote about boy books and girl books. It is a topic that continues to be part of an ongoing discussion as evidenced here: http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/parenting-and-families/how-ive-helped-teach-boys-that-girls-are-boring-and-unimportant-20160809-gqoj3d.html.

Do we sometimes stereotype a book as being for girls or boys exclusively? Are girls and boys seeking different things in books. Research from a quarter of a century ago did suggest there was a gap between what boys and girls wanted in books. This article shares some studies of gender's role in reading: https://www.ucy.ac.cy/unesco/documents/unesco/Articles_2010-2010_conference/GRIVA_ALEVR_SEMOG_paper.pdf"Furthermore, a lot of researchers have investigated and indicated differences between male and female students in reading preferences, reading performance and strategy use (e.g., Biigel & Buunk, 1996; Chavez, 2001). In addition, a number of studies have revealed gender differences in the amount of time allocated/devoted to reading. It has also been found that a higher percentage of girls indulge in leisure reading than boys (Abilock, 2002; Swalander & Taube, 2007). The females show a more positive attitude to reading (see Swalander & Taube, 2007) and a preference for reading a variety of genres compared to males (Clark, Osborne & Akerman, 2008)."

More recent research seems to point to more individual differences rather than issues of gender: http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1207&context=education_ETD_masters.

I think perhaps the most important thing to do is to survey our OWN students about their habits and preferences. And we need to be certain we are sharing a wide variety of books in terms of genres, forms, formats, etc.
 
 
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will weaverwill__weaver on August 14th, 2016 01:54 pm (UTC)
Boy Books, Girl Books
As a male author who's been on mission to keep boys reading, I'm about ready to throw in the towel. Actually, the towel has been thrown in for me–by my publisher and agent. "Boy books don't sell." That's the message pervasive in YA publishing, and the numbers bear it out. This comes at particularly bad time in our culture. You can bet your bottom dollar that the typical angry white male Trump supporter is a nonreader. To the problem of boys-who-hate-reading, the answer is simple: publish books specifically for them. Books focused on cars, motocross, wrestling, hunting, boxing, skateboarding, sports of all kind, adventure. Sure this is stereotyping boys. It's also true. We need to do anything we can to keep boys reading and growing in their reading skills. To this our big publishers have a responsibility: publish "boy books," even at a loss, and make your contribution to shoring up our increasingly shaky American experiment.

(Hey, this would make a nice essay; look for it soon. You saw it here first!)

Will Weaver