Shannon Hale

Life is short, so live extra lives. Read books.

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On boy books and tofu

The discussion about boys reading “girl” books continues, and I’m loving it. I’ve posted a selection of comments from my blog readers that I think is worth a read.

Given some people’s responses to my original post, I want to clarify a few things:

  • I think it’s marvelous and vital that there are wonderful male writers writing for children and teens. Let there be more!
  • I love the Guys Read campaign. With the majority of educators being women, we need more visible male reading role models.
  • If only girls ever read my books, I would still feel fulfilled and happy as a writer. I’m not writing these posts to beg for male readers. I’m just trying to share things I’ve observed since I began my career as a writer that display a subtle and shockingly widespread sexism. This sexism is perpetrated by both men and women and damages both boys and girls.
  • If a boy (or girl) only likes to read non-fiction, that’s cool by me. If a boy (or girl) only likes to read motorcycle magazines, that’s cool by me. If a boy (or girl) prefers scifi, for example, and most of the protagonists happen to be male, so what? But if a boy enjoys a wider selection of books but refuses to pick up any book written by a woman or with a female protagonist, THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG.
  • Here are two first steps for my hoped-for changes: 1. boys and girls cease to mock any boys who read a “girl” book. 2. Adults become more aware about how we talk about books and our tendency to only recommend books about/by boys for male readers.
  • Even if some boys would never, ever, ever like any book that’s written by a woman or featuring a girl (sad, but possible), if we never offer those books or invite them to read those books, the message received is, “These are girl books and girl books are bad for you/off limits. Girl stuff is beneath you.”

I love books. I love readers. I love choices. Let them eat cake. Or pancakes. Or tofu. Or whatever the heck they want.

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    I hope to never be the only one who thinks all of this makes sense. One of my favorite things to read right now is...
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