You see, it is not just girls’ ambitions that are being frustrated by the limiting effects of “books for girls”, in which girls’ roles are all passive, domestic and in front of a mirror. Rebecca Davies, who writes the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk, tells me that she is equally sick of receiving “books which have been commissioned solely for the purpose of ‘getting boys reading’ [and which have] all-male characters and thin, action-based plots.” What we are doing by pigeon-holing children is badly letting them down. And books, above all things, should be available to any child who is interested in them.
Happily, as the literary editor of The Independent on Sunday, there is something that I can do about this. So I promise now that the newspaper and this website will not be reviewing any book which is explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys. Nor will The Independent’s books section. And nor will the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk. Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys. If you are a publisher with enough faith in your new book that you think it will appeal to all children, we’ll be very happy to hear from you. But the next Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen will not come in glittery pink covers. So we’d thank you not to send us such books at all.
Surprise! A left-winger allows ideology to trump real life. Why can’t these people just let children read and enjoy books that appeal to them? If my kids read good books, I don’t care if the books are “boy books” or “girl books.” My oldest and my youngest child are both complete bookworms, but my middle child, a boy, does not share his siblings’ love of books. He reads, but getting him to read requires presenting him with classic “boy” stories. So what? Aren’t we thrilled to get kids reading, period, and off the iPhone/Playstation?
See liberals, you think conservatives are the sole aggressors in the culture war, but you are wrong. It drives me crazy that the cultural left insists on radical egalitarianism when it suits them, but demand particularism (e.g., race-conscious special treatment, women’s only accomodations, etc.) when it suits them.