July 26, 2009

Diversity Role Call- Gender Diversity

Diversity Role Call is hosted by the wonderful Ali of the blog Worducopia. This is my first time participating in it, although I cannot believe I have not before. I love reading all of the entries and find them fascinating and I am a huge believer in diversity in books.
This week there were two topics and I chose to write about the topic on Gender Diversity. Here is what was said on Ali's post:

Some of us live in fairly homogenous communities, and some kids aren't exposed to a lot of diversity in their day-to-day lives. (All the more reason to include it in the books they read! But I digress). The one kind of diversity that nearly everyone is exposed to on a daily basis, and often within their own families, is gender diversity.

Librarian Diantha McBride wrote an open letter to publishers in School Library Journal, detailing several things she'd like to see changed in children's books. The most controversial statement she made was this:
I need more books for boys—as do most librarians who work with young people. I've noticed that lots of books with female characters aren't really about being female. In fact, in many cases, the main characters could just as easily have been males—and that would make my job a lot easier.
Of the many reactions to this throughout the blogosphere, Renay's sarcastic rant stood out for me:
"Why yes! Girls should have to read about boys because you know, they’re used to it, but boys shouldn’t have to pick up a book with a female narrator, because they might get cooties. . . . Boys need books with male narrators because they can’t see themselves in a female perspective, because they’ve been trained not to by a society that is hostile to women and girls. The answer is not to cater to this hostility, it is to come up with creative ways to make the books appealing."
Meanwhile, Mr. Chompchomp of Guys Lit Wire issued an apology of his own, for the fact that his recommendations for books for boys tend to bypass books with female leads, regardless of whether the premise/writing/style might have boy appeal. He remedies this with a list of books with female protagonists and boy appeal which I'll certainly be making use of for my boys.

There were three choices for this topic and I chose number 1, which is:
Talk about a book (or offer a list of books) that you think has appeal to both genders. Or, books with a female lead that would appeal to guys, or vice versa. It doesn't have to be a kids' book--choose whatever genre you'd like.

I am making 2 lists for this.

First, the age range I am most familiar with and have the most experience with is pre-k so I am going to base this first list off of books for the 3-5 year-old set. (Instead of copying each book's description into my post, I am linking the title to its page on Amazon.)

1. We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

2. Where the Wild Things Are by Marcus Sendak

3. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

4. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

5. Curious George Goes to the Beach by H.A. Rey

6. The Hat by Jan Brett

Second, this list is for the slightly older crowd, perhaps 8-11 range that I think any boy of this age range can enjoy.

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Abridged) by Mark Twain

2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

3. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

4. Magic Tree House #42: A Good Night for Ghosts by Mary Pope Osbourne

5. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

6. Loser by Jerry Spinelli

Questions, comments on these selections or your own ideas for books? Please leave a comment!


  1. Gah, I left a comment but had apparently turned off my wireless and it didn't take. Went for a bike ride with Evan and now, um...what did I say?

    Oh yeah: Love the list!
    And: Thrilled that you're participating in the Roll Call!
    And also: Must look into Loser for my guys.

  2. I love Where the Red Fern Grows and of course the Boxcar Children. It reigned supreme as quite some time for the review that got the most traffic. Great picks!

  3. Love the list and love the idea of a book that appeals to both the gender's. I haven't read most of these but I might. I'm still catching up on children's books :)

  4. I would also recommend The tale of Desperaux and Because of Winn-Dixie both by Kate DiCamillo as two books that appeal to both genders! I like the idea of looking at female character stories boys might like due to strong story/characters, which is what we should be looking for for all our children.

  5. This is a great list! I've always worried about choosing books for my daughter, who is 3, that are really girly. Not that I mind that she's "girly" per say, but I would like her to choose books that she is interested in and not have her feel like because she's a girl, that there are only certain books for her.

    Great topic! I love the "Llama" books; they are very cute.

  6. Forgot to mention that the City of Ember books are great for boys or girls.

  7. Excellent list! "Where the Red Fern Grows" - I probably set the world's record for sobbing over that one!

  8. My son and I LOOOOOOOVVVEEE Mama Mama Red Pajama ... totally cute and the photos are hilarious!

  9. Thanks for this list--I'm currently working on a book about a boy who wants to become a dollmaker, and I'm hopeful it will appeal to all kids.

  10. Love the Count of Monte Cristo! Another book I'd recommend for both genders is something like Harry Potter.

  11. Excellent post… was just what I was looking for! Thanks again. gender diversity


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