Girls and Boys and Books, Yet Again

Oh, no! The YA publishing industry is dominated by girls! Girls reading books, girls writing books, girls actually allowed to be main characters in books . . . It’s out of control and it has to stop, says Robert Lipsyte in his recent New York Times essay, Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?

Fortunately for all of us, Aja Romano has now published a brilliant response to this rubbish. Unlike Mr Lipsyte’s essay, Ms Romano’s article is full of facts and logic and common sense, and is written by someone who’s actually familiar with contemporary YA literature. It’s well worth a read.

EDITED TO ADD: Tea Cozy has a great post about this, which includes a link to another brilliant response by Saundra Mitchell, who also posted a long list of YA books about boys.

3 thoughts on “Girls and Boys and Books, Yet Again”

  1. Maybe the reason why boys are often seen to be reluctant readers is because people try to give them awful “boy’s books” to convince them otherwise! Like Huckleberry Finn! (Personal bias there, I’ll admit, but I just really didn’t like it when I was forced to read it for school.) Luckily for me, I actually enjoyed most of the books I had to read in high school, and looking back on the list in light of having read both the Lipsyte article and the Romano article, I was struck by the fact that they mostly feature a female main character. We read ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’ (by John Marsden), ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ (by Melina Marchetta), ‘Wolf’ (by Gillian Cross), ‘Wuthering Heights’ (by Emily Bronte). And this was in a co-ed school and I can’t remember any of the boys in my class complaining that the books they were expected to read were too girly or that they were unable to relate to them. Many went on to read the rest of the Tomorrow series, where the narrator and main character is a girl. I mean, the stories were great, so why shouldn’t they appeal to readers of both genders?

    (Of course, no book will ever appeal to all readers, but usually it’s more a matter of the reader’s interest in the subject matter and genre, than the gender of the protagonist.)

    1. That’s so heartening to read about your experiences, especially about the boys’ reactions. I think teenage boy readers are far more intelligent, inquisitive and perceptive than Robert Lipsyte suggests.

  2. And I just remembered another book I read for school: ‘Children of the Dust’, by Louise Lawrence. Children of the Dust is told by three narrators in turn, all three girls. To be honest about this book, it kind of scared me because it was about nuclear war and gave me nightmares, but it was definitely exciting and hard to spot reading once I started it.

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