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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!!

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

TolliverGroat Sat 06-Jul-13 22:31:37

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

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.

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)

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.

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!

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?

TolliverGroat Sat 06-Jul-13 01:43:15

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).

TolliverGroat Sat 06-Jul-13 01:24:32

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.

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.

SolidGoldBrass Sat 06-Jul-13 00:34:16

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.

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

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

TolliverGroat Fri 05-Jul-13 23:09:35

If you ever have to read one of Darcey Bussell's sodding magic fairy bbc allerina books you would beg to be allowed to read a RF book instead (probably. I've never actually read a RF book, but they can't possibly be worse than DB).

There were 58 Hardy Boys books (though they've written more now), 64 Nancy Drews (ditto) and 43 Three Investigators titles. In comparison there are 72 Beast Quest books available today.

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 21:53:59

And yes, indoctrination indeed. That is what it feels like. As though it is just a matter of time before DD falls into the trap of "I must only read pink sparkly books". confused

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 21:51:39

Ah yes didn't think of them (I'm 26 BTW grin) were they huge series? I guess I thought of them as proper stories as mysteries have to have a plot of some description. Rather than the endless 'Alexandra the Royal Baby Fairy' etc hmm

Mind you I have always been what would be described as a 'tomboy' so maybe I just automatically assume negative things about such books. I just cannot bring myself to think of RF etc as 'proper books' is that bad?! <snob> blush

KRITIQ Fri 05-Jul-13 17:50:07

Coal Dust, you are right. At the risk of sounding like the old fart that I am, there genuinely wasn't this compulsory heteronormative gender conformity business with books, toys and games back in the 70's.

From about 3rd grade onwards (age 8) we read books as a class - both boys and girls. I remember reading ones with girl protagonists (e.g. Blue Willow, Island of the Blue Dolphin, all the Laura Ingalls Wilder ones, Charlotte's Web, etc. and some with boys like Tom Sawyer, Old Yeller and My Side of the Mountain. They were pretty crap with regard to cultural diversity, which was a failing (but not surprising in such a homogeneous, rural community in the US,) but I honestly don't recall any pressure on either boys or girls to read "only" books targeting their gender.

However, at Uni, I did a post grad literature course one year when I had a few hours spare in the timetable, which was taught by an author of children's books that were popular in the 50's and 60's. She suggested that if you want commercial success in writing for children, make the main character male, as girls will read about both genders but boys are less likely to. I remember feeling pretty outraged by that idea and started reflecting on the predominance of male characters in everything from cartoons to children's books. But honestly, it was nothing like it is now.

Just wonder where it is all leading, this indoctrination (for that is what it is.)

TolliverGroat Fri 05-Jul-13 16:33:06

There were things like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and the Three Investigators, fuzzpig, unless you're much older than I am. I used to love the Hardy Boys.

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 15:52:56

OP out of interest can you give some examples of what books are on the list? I might look out for them at work (library) and see who borrows them.

We don't shelve things by gender BTW. We do have a spinner thing where we put the series like beast quest etc.

Am I imagining it or is this vast tide of huge series a relatively new thing? I remember my DSD, now 15, going through a phase of reading all the rainbow fairies books when they were quite new. I don't remember there being much like that when I was younger apart from Animal Ark (yawn) and goosebumps (yay! grin). Now there are loads of these series. Some aren't even written by one single author, I was quite shocked when I found out about writer bank things.

Anyway, I think these books do so well as there is the argument that any reading even if it is 'trash' is better than none. Which is true. But I also agree with the view I read recently that actually racing through series like RF/BQ etc is really more like 'consumption' than reading and that maybe it is better to slow down and read fewer books but better quality... but then who's to say what is quality anyway? Maybe some of the older books we now think of as children's classics were once thought of as trash too? I don't know.

Sorry, I'm rambling now blush. DD just turned 6 and isn't reading chapter books herself yet, and I've only read her a few but I like the fact that due to my job I get to choose at the moment! We've read 2 Jill Tomlinsons, George's Marvellous Medicine and are now partway through Paddington. Coming up next, The Worst Witch grin DD has occasionally brought home a RF book from the school library but seems to have just flicked through and admired the covers/character names (eg her friends' names), she's not really bothered about hearing the stories. Whereas she gets very excited when I bring home a chapter book I've chosen for our evenings together. I don't suppose that will last forever though.

LeBFG Fri 05-Jul-13 14:58:36

Sorry, I meant to say (the point , doh) that this is an example of tragic overthinking not underthinking.

LeBFG Fri 05-Jul-13 14:57:13

From teaching in the UK about 8 years ago I remember there was a lot of crap about learning styles (brain based pseudoscience) and hip right-on-ness about being 'inclusive'. So, engaging black boys in reading and getting asian girls in sport etc by playing to their interests. This naturally led on to the girl/boy inclusiveness....leading, naturally enough, to this style of gender-based reading lists. Very few people were standing up at the time to say: let's challenge the children. Girls might on average want pink princess stories but exposing them to other stuff they might discover they in fact prefer adventure stories. This is reminiscent of how schools were wedded to the chocolate and coke machines (which they were making bucks out of) and refused to stock healthier stuff because it never sold. Course, now they only stock healthy stuff and, lo, the kids buy and eat it hmm. Schools are crap.

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Fri 05-Jul-13 14:44:30

yanbu isn't it more effort to make 2 lists confused

Phineyj Fri 05-Jul-13 11:49:25

Crikey I did spell it right! Go me!

Phineyj Fri 05-Jul-13 11:48:41

How about one of Marina Lewycka's books for your Dad, Coaldust? (not sure if I've spelt her surname right).

Lavenderloves Fri 05-Jul-13 08:09:33

I have one girl and a boy, i try to keep the princess type books to a minimum. ( they rarely have good stories)

Good stories are much better imho and they both enjoy them together.

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