back in March, I shared a post from American author Shannon Hale, where she detailed her experience with gendered reading while on her book tour for her mega successful PRINCESS ACADEMY series. If you missed it, you can find it here.
Australian blogger, Megan Daley, recently interviewed Jacqueline Harvey, Australian author of the hugely successful Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series, and the new Kensy and Max series, about the gender debate in children’s books. You can find Megan’s interview here on her literary wonder of a website, childrensbooksdaily.com.
I first met Jacqueline two years ago at WritingNSW’s Kids and YA Festival in Sydney, where I fangirled her on behalf of my daughter – that’s me with Jacquie on the right 🙂 (and I hope to catch up with her again at the same festival later this month).
Since then, we have connected through social media (which pleases my daughter to no end), and I can honestly say that, not only is Jacquie a wonderful storyteller but she is also a passionate advocate for children’s literary – and a lovely individual!
Anyway, back to Megan’s post…I was struck by the similarities in Shannon and Jacquie’s experiences. Both had visited schools where assumptions had been made by staff that boys would not be interested in their books so were, therefore, denied the opportunity to hear them speak.
As Jacquie says in Megan’s post:
“When I’ve asked where the boys are, I’ve been met with, ‘Well you know we didn’t think they’d enjoy your talk because your books are for girls.’ At which point my head is about to explode.”
This raises the question, so eloquently asked by Jacquie:
“Why do parents (and some teachers and librarians too in my experience) maintain that there are books for boys and books for girls. I tell kids that’s not true – there are just books – lots of them are great, some of them are not so great, some have a female main character and others have males at the heart of the story – lots of them have boys and girls in the cast. So why is it still such an issue?”
Why is that?
And are girls also denied access to school visits by kidlit authors of books with male main characters? I think not to the same extent (the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson come to mind), but maybe I am wrong.
Or does it come down to kidlit books being “gender judged”, to some degree, by the artwork on their covers?
What do you think? I’d love your thoughts,