Boy books vs. girl books catchup

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 29 21:25:38 EDT 2002


With the spate of posts recently (which is
nothing to complain of) I haven't had time to
reply to everything so I'm going back to this
one.

<<Melissa wrote
Hallie mentioned the Court and Crown Duel books
with the comment "just not
for a boy?"  This is an issue I've been wondering
about too.  I'm sure
you've all heard the idea that boys will only
read "boy" books, but girls
will read both.  "Boy" books have boy
protagonists, adventure, fighting, not
many girls...I think.  And "girl" books have girl
protagonists, some
romance, fluffy bunnies...I don't know.  Even if
there's fighting--as in
Crown Duel--if a girl's the main character, the
prevailing wisdom is that
boys won't be interested.>

<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?>>

It has always seemed to me that there are girl
books, marketed as such, involving romance and
ponies, and also all kinds of interpersonal
relationship things. In the latter category I
would put Anne Fine, whose books are mostly about
family politics (Goggleyes, Madame Doubtfire, the
one about putting granny in a home) or an
individual's particular problems, usually for
younger readers, (Anneli the Art Hater, Charm
School). Also in this category are Nina Bawden,
whose focus is often upon a family secret, and
Jane Gardam as well as any number of problem
books. I can see that the appeal of romance and
ponies has a limited market to boys but I've
never really understood why they won't read the
other stuff.

Then there are boys books, I'm out of touch with
the modern equivalent but things like Biggles,
with aircraft and derring do and no girls,
Jennings, with naughty schoolboys and no girls,
any amount of stuff so long as there is
technivcal stuff and no girls. This never
appealed to me and is what I would put in the
equivalent category to the ponies and the
romance.

Finally there seems to be a whole slew of stuff,
thrillers, historicals, sf, fantasy, mysteries,
basically the genre stuff, which may be marketed
either way but has aspects which appeal to both
sexes. My own suspicion is that girls are more
likely to pick up something that is apparently
boy oriented, particularly if it's about
something they find interesting (ie my reading of
the likes of Henry Trease because I liked Viking
stories). 

Melissa
<<3. If you began reading science fiction and/or
fantasy as a young teen, what
interested you in such books?  (Boys or girls)>>

It goes back too far for me to remember, when I
first started reading I liked animal books. After
I graduated to the bigger shelves the first
author I remember looking for by name was
Elizabeth Beresford and from then on I was on the
look out for anything with magic in it and got to
E Nesbit not long after. I was also fascinated by
mythology from very early on and very fond of
fairy tales.

My older brother introduced me to SF when I was
in hospital having my tonsils out. By 9 or 10 I
was borrowing the adult sf he could get (often
without permisssion) and we had a common
obsession with Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom
books.

What interested me was the sense I have had all
my life that there is something more to things
than we know, something just beyond what we know
and even more basically that these were the books
I became lost in, or maybe, found. 


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.

Not speaking for myself of course......... One
factor must be the availability of
books -- if boys are "made" to take books home
from school or if there plenty lying around at
home it's easier to resist the pressure not to
read.

My brother read quite a few of my books. I think
he would read a book with a girl on the cover so
long as there was a monster there as well. he
thoroughly enjoyed the Princess and Curdie for
example.

I'm going to split the post here to make it more
manageable.




=====
Ven

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