Why Boys Don’t Read Books About Girls


Why don’t boys read books about girls? Well, first of all, many boys do read books about girls. As for the ones who won’t? They understand that gender is a hierarchy, and their position at the top is tenuous.

Also, the adult book buyers in their lives probably aren’t buying them books starring girls, under the common but misguided assumption that girls will read about anyone, but boys can only be expected to take interest in other boys.

This is not just an assumption held by bourgeouis book buyers. This attitude is baked right into how stuff gets made, about who. Disney clearly buys into this attitude. As evidence? Lilo & Stitch.

After the success of Lilo & Stitch, Disney released several franchise movies, the first of which was titled Stitch! The Movie (2013), followed by Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch (2005) and Leroy and Stitch (2006). Disney’s attempt to repackage the films as a recommodifiable product meant the downplay of Lilo herself, the girl character, emphasizing the focus on Stitch, the boy character, presumably to follow the industry’s old gendered adage that girls will watch a boy character but boys will not watch a girl character, even though the success of the original film had already proven otherwise.

Touching Queerness in Disney Films Dumbo and Lilo and Stitch

Especially interesting to me is the fact that Jeff Kinney, creator of hugely popular but gender problematic middle grade graphic novels, grew up with books centring girls, though he himself, as a contemporary creator of stories for children, consistently others the girl characters across his Wimpy Kid series.

Q: Who were some of the authors you read when you first got into books?

A: I really liked Judy Blume, and my favourite book was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. I liked the main character, Peter Hatcher, because he seemed like an ordinary kid I could relate to. And I liked the humour, which was realistic and not outlandish.

Interview with Jeff Kinney, author of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series

The attitude that boys won’t read books about girls is so entrenched that woman storytellers are frequently asked to comment about the gender of their own readers.

MELISSA SEYMOUR: Do you agree with the statement “Girls will read books with female and male protagonists but boys will only read books with male protagonists”?

LOIS LOWRY: No, I don’t.  One of my books, NUMBER THE STARS, is very popular with boys, though the two main protagonists are both girls.  It may be a bit of a leap for a boy to pick up such a book…and it has a picture of a girl on the cover….but the important element for a reader of either gender is a compelling story.

From FEMPOWER

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Guys Read Judy Blume Too, and Not Just for the “Dirty Bits” from Jezebel.

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