|Beautiful Girls...Brilliant boys?|
So, let me quickly commend the Let Books Be Books campaign to you and urge you to sign the petition, which calls for children's publishers to take 'Boys' and 'Girls' labels off colouring, activity and sticker books.
As the campaign says: 'Children are listening, and take seriously the messages they receive from books, from toys, from marketing and the adults around them. Do we really want them to believe that certain things are off-limits for them because of their gender? They’re not ‘getting it wrong’ if a girl likes robots, or if a boy wants to doodle flowers. These artificial boundaries turn children away from their true preferences, and provide a fertile ground for bullying.'
I'd go further and ask that publishers think carefully about all the books they publish for children of all ages and ask if gender specific covers are really necessary. Too often the message goes out to children that books about girls are off limit to boys, and vice versa. That adventure and action is for boys, and relationships are for girls. That a 'pink' book written by a woman is somehow not serious.
The book that I'm struggling to finish is about love. It's about love from a boy and a girl's point of view. It's also about expectations and freedom, including the freedom to love who you want. My hope is that it'll appeal to all sorts of readers, and I have great confidence that my publisher will market it accordingly.
Do you feel that marking books for 'girls' or 'boys' helps to write and sell them? Is it inevitable? Or can this campaign just be the start of real change in the world of children's books?