There's an article in the Times of London about author and illustrator Jonathan Emmett's suggestion that boys aren't reading because "the majority of publishers, editors, librarians, judges and reviewers of children’s books" are women, and this disparity is apparently enough to convince boys that Books Are For Girls. To which I reply: riiiight. Look, I'm not suggesting that there isn't a gender gap in reading performance, but I suspect that has more to do with the following factors:
A) Our gender-specific expectations of how kids should behave during their early-education years, which seems to encourage little girls to develop reading-specific skills (the ability to sit still, self-control, etc.), while tolerating more inattention in boys.

B) The growing prevalence of technology. I don't think many parents realize that it's hard for ANY book to compete with an iPad, which offers an immediate, all-consuming entertainment experience. Seriously, for many kids 'Harry Potter' is going to lose out to 'Flappy Golf', just because the game is fun faster.

C) The fact that reading is declining across the board—this applies to both genders, all ages, and all economic levels. Nobody's reading as much as they used to, but bear in mind that romance novels (most of which are presumably read by women) made up a staggering 25% of all books sold in 2012. Girls may read more simply because they have more gender-specific role models exhibiting the desired behavior.
But setting all this aside, let me assure you: if you want to find books written by men and featuring stories about pirates, sports, space aliens, or kids beating each other up, those books are out there. (Some of them are even good!) And if you're the parent of a boy who is a reluctant reader, rather than blaming those pesky "female gatekeepers" hiding all the dude-friendly stories, I strongly recommend that you follow the classic advice for getting your kids (of either gender) to learn to love books: read out loud to your child, choose great stories that appeal to both of you, and model reading yourself.
Posted by: Julianka


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