I am a reader.
Granted, I read more voraciously as a child. I'm sure many of my fellow readers can relate. Growing up means facing work and school and all these adult responsibilities that eat up time, time you used to fill with reading. Poring over book after book, summer days filled with endless literary adventures.
As any reader can attest, the stories we consume as children shape the people we become. The characters in the books we read become our friends and compatriots, and as everyone knows, we often define ourselves by the company we keep.
If a child grew up reading the Redwall books, they might view the world differently than a child who preferred The Three Cousin's Detective Club. Or if you empathized with Grover from Percy Jackson & The Olympians, you may have had different values than those who thought The Hunger Games' President Snow was more interesting.
In middle school, I took an elective course for several years called "Battle of the Books." The class would choose two books per semester to read over and over again, writing questions and making quizzes about details from the book. At the end of the year, we would hold a tournament and compete for prizes (the grand prize usually being a $10 gift card to somewhere we'd have to beg our parents to drive us to) to prove who knew these books the best. I always placed in the top two, but I suppose that's beside the point.
As a middle schooler, I wasn't particularly aware of the philosophical world of gender politics, but there were a few patterns I began to notice. All the books our class kept choosing--well, they all seemed to be about boys.
We had read books of a similar genre before in "Battle of the Books," and loved them, but The Smuggler's Treasure didn't make the cut. None of the boys in the class would vote for it. In fact, over my three years in the "Battle of the books," we only chose one book with a female heroine. And she was a mouse, so I'm not entirely sure she counts.
But this wasn't an equal gender divide. It wasn't "boys vote for books about boys, girls vote for books about girls." No, the girls in the class proposed and voted for books about boys. It became clear to me that books about boys were just called books, but books about girls were girls' books.
So, parents, I ask of you: Give your boys books about girls. Give them Trixie Belden along with The Hardy Boys, Because of Winn-DIxie along with Stuart Little.
Stories about girls are not just stories for girls. They're stories. Why limit the stories your children can experience?
A writer, a reader, a story-eater.