AIBU to believe that this is a self-perpetuating cycle?

(63 Posts)
KaseyM Thu 04-Jul-13 13:08:12

Went to DS's school - received a booklist for over the summer which is split according to year and gender...

Looking at the books for DS's year group I see that the books "recommended by girls" have a mixture of girl AND boy protagonists whilst the boys' books are all about ... well.. boys.

Glancing around, the kids were dutifully reading from the list ascribed to their gender and I know that DS will likely be too embarrassed to pick one from the girls' side (although his favourite is on there) as they have hand in a review.

All this in mind:

AIBU to think this just perpetuates the cycle of girls reading about/watching boys but not vice-versa?

AIBU to think the school shouldn't have done this?

& AIBU to choose for DS myself - 1 about a boy, 1 about a girl and 1 about both?

I realise that's a lot of AIBUs!!

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 23:18:34

Wow I had no idea there were that many nancy drew etc! shock

Argh, YANBU at all. I remember having A Word when DS brought home a book which was so horrifically explicit about the gender divide we didn't read it - the whole plot was how awful girls were and how ridiculous their interest in pink sparkliness was: gender war for 6-year-olds.

Wuldric Sat 06-Jul-13 00:47:55

I'm going to go against the grain here (and it's not because I'm not a feminist. I am in fact a card carrying feminist).

The trouble is that boys lag behind girls, when it comes to literacy. I spent a fortune on books trying to get DS to read. DD was not a problem. She devoured books and still does. DS just ... doesn't. I used to read with him nightly, until he was about 9, and tried my hardest to let him lead as to what he would like to read. I bought 1001 tasty little books designed to get boys a-reading. None of it worked.

I worried about this endlessly. I still do now that he is a teenager. His marks in maths/physics/chem are to die for. English? Pedestrian and disinterested.

It was a huge effort. The school were massively helpful. He goes to a boys school, thankfully, where they make a real feature of boy-centred learning. I think that means they teach in 5-minute bursts so not to tax their limited concentration spans.

They are wired differently, boys.

DD never did any of the Princess shit, btw. But there is a reason that there is a girl's reading list (pretty much everything) and a boy's reading list. There really is.

But the impact here will be to put a boy (the OP's DS) off reading books that, until he encountered this list, he really enjoyed.

And the most that can be said is that on a population level boys lag behind girls in literacy. The average girl will have slightly higher literacy skills than the average boy of the same age. But there will be plenty of boys who are ahead of the average girl of the same age in literacy, and plenty of girls who lag behind the average boy. Lumping all the girls (those ahead of the average boy and those behind; those interested in fiction and those who prefer non-fiction; those who like action thrillers and those who enjoy sparkly princesses) together and saying "here's your reading list" (and the equivalent for the boys) is just silly. There are far more sensible ways of dividing up the list - e.g. "If you like sport you may enjoy reading... If you like dragons and quests you may enjoy reading... If you like fairies and magic you may enjoy reading..." so that you are giving an an accessible entry point to the lists based on individual interests and literacy level. That's got to be better than doing it based on external genitalia and some generalisations about populations.

There's virtually no evidence that boys and girls are innately wired differently, by the way. But the human brain is plastic and when boys and girls are socialised differently it'a no surprise that statistical differences emerge (although even then on most traits the average difference is very small).

EduCated Sat 06-Jul-13 02:11:46

But Wuldric, that's your son. His disinterest in reading may not be because he's a boy. He might just not like it.

I adore reading, my DMV used to have to wrestle books out of my hands to make me sleep/eat/wash/do anything. My DSis, on the other hand, has never enjoyed reading. I think she owns about 3 books to my 300.

So which conclusion do I draw? That girls are good at reading or that they just don't like it?

Or might it be that we're just two people with different personalities?

nooka Sat 06-Jul-13 02:24:22

Both my children live their lived with a book to hand, and the biggest compliant from school last year for both of them was that they weren't paying attention because they were reading. They are both very unusual among their peers. I suspect that the fact that I love reading, and in particular I love reading children's books has been a fairly large factor in their turning out as bookworms (maybe there is a genetic component, my whole family are very book orientated). We probably have at least as many teen/young adult books as adult ones, and although I've not been able to persuade them to read all my favourites I've sure tried very hard!

LeBFG Sat 06-Jul-13 12:36:30

Boys are behaviourally different to girls (whether some of that is genetic is another debate). All agree however that the brain is hugely plastic in relation to stimuli. The problem with pandering to the 'boys are only interested in x' is this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. IME boys and girls copy what they see around them. If mum/dad doesn't read this sets things up badly. If all their english teachers are women, this continues the problem.

Takver Sat 06-Jul-13 19:47:02

"Boys are behaviourally different to girls (whether some of that is genetic is another debate)."

That's great unless you happen to have a girl who would appear according to all the behavioural stuff to be a boy in disguise . . .

Which genuinely can be a big issue at school because some (thankfully not all) teachers are so carefully looking out for these behavioural differences that they don't pick up a problem if it presents in a child of the 'wrong' sex. (been there, done that, got the t-shirt and an - eventual - referral)

KaseyM Sat 06-Jul-13 21:04:40

It's not that I'm bothered by whatever behavioural differences but they're not absolute are they? Why this need to tell kids what they're gonna like without letting them make their minds up.

And the whole boy thing is so nasty. Poor DS absolutely adores Tracy Beaker. He lives and breathes it but now he's gonna see them on the girls' list and start thinking "maybe I shouldn't be so into them if they're for girls". And we all know how boys are about girl stuff. Touch it and be teased.

And why? What's the point? I hate it.

Boosterseat Sat 06-Jul-13 21:58:26

angry at the schools approach here, DS is at a boys school and books have always been an excellently gender balanced, I was pleasantly surprised.

DS loves the Secret 7 books and I despair at Anne, he is old enough to grasp the generation gap so it does make for a jolly good larf grin

I'm going to read him Mallory Towers next, they really are brilliant books.

OP, as a short-term measure can you just retype and re-sort the list before letting your DS see it?

KaseyM Sun 07-Jul-13 07:09:44

Thanks Toll. I have got it covered though- I ordered the books myself. He doesn't think it's unusual that I've done this because he is dyslexic and very reluctant to read and so I'm always buying him books to motivate him.

It doesn't usually work but he seems to be really enjoying the first one: "hostage" by Malorie Blackman. It does say that it is dyslexia friendly and he's whizzing through it - bless him - it is hard for him.

Booster-Mallory Towers is brilliant!! I can still remember when Daryll lost her temper grin

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