On day three, I’m already tripping over books and gender. It’s an ongoing issue and one I want to address quickly. Are there ‘girl books’ and ‘boy books’? What kinds of limits are we placing on children and books when we use these types of filters? On the other hand, I, like many booksellers I’m sure, have seen boys reject a book because it’s about a girl and many, but certainly not all, girls seem to prefer Daisy Meadows’s Fairy series over Captain Underpants. I’ve really enjoyed seeing articles lately recognizing that sometimes boys like to wear dresses, and sometimes boys want to read fairy books. What is even more gratifying is to see their parents happily buying fairy books for them. When the child is in the store, I generally try to point out a few different types of books and let them decide for themselves, but the issue is exceptionally tricky when someone is buying a gift for a child they do not know. I often wonder if I’m doing a disservice to boys and girls, when I send grandparents home with non-fiction for their grandsons, gift-wrapped in blue paper, with a robot sticker on the front. Although I expect these questions to surface regularly, this blog will strive to remain gender neutral, and I’ll let you decide for yourselves. But what do you think about books and gender?
I often recommend Scholastic’s series Geronimo Stilton ($6.99, translated from the Italian) for kids who are old enough to read chapter books, but reluctant to move beyond the early reader step series that so many publishers offer. Geronimo Stilton is a mouse detective and the books are full of adventure and humor. However, it’s the page lay-out that really distinguishes this series. While not a comic book, various words are printed in a wide variety of whimsical fonts, small color illustrations are sprinkled throughout the text, and there are numerous full-page illustrations. This approach engages kids who might be put off by too much text and I firmly believe that learning to read images is just as important, and equally complicated, as learning to read text. Enthusiasts will be kept busy reading for a while as there are over 50 books in the series, and his sister, Thea, has her own spin-off series.