Boy books vs. girl books

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Sat Jun 22 19:02:26 EDT 2002

--- Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at> wrote:
> I would like your opinions, especially those of you
> who are boys, or used to
> be boys, about what kinds of books boys are
> interested in reading.
> 1. Is there any truth to the above notion?  If so,
> why?
Many boys, especially if they are poorer/ more
reluctant readers are unlikely to be interested in a
book they perceive as a "girls book". The boy i
referred to in an an earlier post rejected any book
with a girl shown on the cover as he saw them as
"girl's books"

> 2. If not, *are* there any literary elements that
> specifically and
> universally turn boys off a book?

I don't think I've ever seen a boy borrow a horse
story. Hoowever I know that it does happen. I have
seen a few borrow girl's romance novels of the Sweet
dreams/sweet valley high type. Fantasy is perhaps the
most gender equal genre and many kids if they are keen
will try anything. 
> 3. If you began reading science fiction and/or
> fantasy as a young teen, what
> interested you in such books?  (Boys or girls)

I moved into juvenile sf as a logical progression from
the Biggles books of WE Johns. After reading all the
Biggles books I started on his sf novels, along with
those of Ivan Southall. I tried a few others but
didn't specifically look for SF until I read a book
that I think was Ed Hamilton's "The haunted stars". I
have a copy of this but have not tried rereading it to
see if it is the book that hooked me on SF, probably
fear of being disapointed. The book that hooked me on
fantasy was LOTR which I didn't read until I was 17 or
so. It was acouple of years later when i started
working my way through the ballentine reprints
(Eddison, Dunsany etc) and juvenile's like Garner and
CS Lewis)
> 4. Boys: If you know why you like to read F&SF, do
> you think those elements
> of your personality, those interests, are markedly
> different from those of
> other boys?  In other words, do boys not like to
> read because of who they
> are, or because of outside pressure: being seen as a
> sissy, perhaps.
Boys are almost universally poorer readers than girls
on average. However the only figures I've been able to
gather in my library show fairly equal borrowing by
boys and girls. I suspect that boys read less fiction
than girls, they are more into books on sports etc. If
a boy keeps reading into his mid-teens and later it is
very likely he is reading fantasy or sf. A female
reader is more likely to be into other things - Young
Adult, Historical, mystery, romance or literary
fiction. In my current school a fantasy book is more
likely to be read by a boy than a girl, but in my last
school it was about equal.
> 5. Girls: I've noticed that female protagonists in
> fantasy are frequently
> described as being different physically or
> intellectually from their
> families or immediate social group.  Did you feel
> similarly unique, and was
> that an element of your interest in fantasy or
> science fiction?  (This has
> nothing to do with the issue at hand, but I've got
> this book upstairs I've
> been trying to read and the whole "she was dark and
> tall compared to all the
> petite blondes in her adopted family" is sticking in
> my craw.)
I think there is an element of this in "boys" fantasy
and sf too. Van Vogt's "Slan" was the archetypal

Jon Noble

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