The whole gender specific debate on children’s books has been reignited again, and rightly so as it’s an important discussion that should be explored and reassessed regularly.
Campaign group Let Toys Be Toys have launched a petition aimed at publishers to drop what it calls “limiting labels” on books saying that gender labelling is lazy and could even lead to bullying.
This debate has been rumbling for a while -The Guardian touched upon it three years ago, with an article you can read here on how widespread stereotypical characters are present in children’s literature, and how this affects children’s own interpretation of their roles in society.
Here at Fat Fox we feel very strongly that the content of our books will connect with all children of both sexes regardless of where they are from or their background. The point of books should be about bringing children together, not segregating them further. Our future fiction list will be full of strong female leads who fight like warriors and love like Queens, and powerful male characters who express complex emotions and rule like The Gods. The point being, we need to teach our children that they can be anyone they want to be alongside those essential moral tenets of life and they are not expected to follow any certain gender rules. It should be acceptable for a girl to make her hair look pretty if she wants, and to then go and take over the world – and this should be reflected in the stories we give them.
Perhaps the more important discussion here should be about how to change the perception of the child to not feel afraid to delve into unknown territory. Pink books can remain pink, but it should be ok for boys to love them just as much.