This week Princess in Black and Princess Academy author Shannon Hale teamed up with Bloomsbury Children’s Books to initiate a campaign called #StoriesForAll. In light of various comments made to her at her school appearances, Hale has become very concerned with the way adults shame boys for reading “girl books.” Now, she and Bloomsbury have decided to do something about it, by spreading awareness on social media all throughout this week.
Every day this week, Hale and Bloomsbury will feature essays about the topic of gendered reading on their tumblr blogs. It seems that each article will be posted on both blogs. As I write this post on the second day of the challenge, so far Shannon Hale and a school librarian named Margaret Millward have contributed. In Hale’s post, she listed some of the ways gendered reading negatively affects men. When boys are teased for showing interest in “girl books,” it shows them that girls’ experiences are less significant. It prevents them from learning empathy and understanding by reading from a girl’s perspective. It leads them to grow into men who have no understanding of or respect for all things “feminine.” You can read Shannon’s blog here.
The librarian wrote about teaching a lesson to kids about the issue of gendered reading. She showed that when the societal pressure for boys to read only boy books and girls to read only girl books is minimized, children can enjoy books of all types. Unfortunately, some of the boy’s parents resisted and refused to let their sons read “girly” books. I bet they never picked up a girl book as a kid either. Read about what happened in those cases and keep up with the rest of the week’s articles here. Hale and Bloomsbury are also encouraging readers to share their own thoughts and stories regarding gendered reading on social media using the hashtag #storiesforall.
On Twitter, Shannon posted a library sign showing that gendered reading goes both ways. In an effort to get boys interested in reading, the library advertised a program about robot-themed books by using a sign that said “no girls allowed.” Although well-intentioned, signs like this can cause young girls like Shannon’s daughter to feel unwelcome in the “boys’ books” section, which is just as harmful as shaming boys for reading “girls’ books.”
Readers all over the twitterverse are standing up to support the movement with #StoriesForAll and share their own stories of encountering gendered reading or combating it. Bloomsbury is hosting a challenge on Twitter to tweet about a book you think should be read by all genders. If you participate, you may win a prize pack of books (and we know you love free books)!
So if you believe children of all genders should be free to read whatever books they find interesting, without facing ridicule for their choices, I highly encourage you to show your support for #StoriesForAll. Enter Bloomsbury’s challenge, spread the blog posts, and teach the children in your life not to pick their books based on whether they are “girls’ books” or “boys’ books” but rather to read what they are interested in, as well as branching out and exploring books from new perspectives, all while keeping open minds and never judging others for what they choose to read.