Nov 25, 2014

Let Books Be Books

Ladybird Books, one of the biggest publishers of children's books in the world, recently announced that they would be doing away with gendered labels on their titles. So no more will there be particular Ladybird books aimed at girls, and different ones aimed at boys. Instead, all of their books will be marketed as gender-neutral.

Some apparently consider this a bad thing, "pandering" to feminists.

I love the Let Books Be Books campaign, and the great things it's achieving. As an author, reader, and a parent, I want to see as many stories as possible available for all children, and all grown-ups, too. There's absolutely nothing wrong with writing a book with a particular target audience in mind. It's not possible to write a book that appeals to everyone, so you hedge your bets, so to speak, and focus on making the story the best you can. But I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have the right to make the decision for themselves whether or not they enjoy a particular book, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.

It's hard enough getting kids to keep reading, without outright telling them that there are certain books that aren't meant for them. Reading is universal. It's something anyone can do. It's a joy to get lost in a world and feel characters come alive in your imagination, so I say, let everyone read whatever they want, and not get caught up trying to enforce the same old "this is for girls, that is for boys" attitude.

Who cares what some curmudgeonly old sods think? The cycle has to be broken at some point, and if that starts with a publisher no longer telling boys and girls which stories they should be reading, then so much the better. It makes the job easier for everyone.

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