One argument in favour of gender labels on children’s books is to get boys into reading. According to the OECD:
Girls outperform boys in reading in all countries and economies by the equivalent of one year of school.
One way of combating this imbalance is by creating more books specifically for boys, to encourage and therefore enhance the boys’ reading experience. Studies have been carried out to find out which type of books boys would choose, and (according to Coles & Hall), the preferences are:
- 10yrs old: adventure, humour, football
- 12yrs old: war, science, fantasy, horror
- 14yrs old: much more diverse and difficult to predict
It has also been suggested that boys are much less likely to pick up a book they consider to be ‘girly’ or intended for girls, whereas girls are less perturbed by indications of a ‘boyish’ book. But why is this? And should publishers be publishing books particularly for boys to get them reading, or should we be encouraging children to read any book that takes their fancy?