When I was a child I was an avid reader. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had the added bonus of a brother who also read – not as much as me, but thankfully completely different books. So when, after Christmas, I had finished all of my Famous Five adventures, I would turn to his Secret Seven. Bu we both fought tooth and nail for the Roald Dahl’s and Goosebumps. We had our own books, and then there was a little slice of ambiguity that we both loved.
These days, with the likes of Harry Potter and Malory Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, is there such a thing as gendered fiction? Boys and girls are reading the same books with no second thoughts. Equality and gender expectations have changed from ten years ago. Yet books such as The Dangerous Book for Boys and it’s female equivalent still sell like hot cakes.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing. As mentioned, I love books. I will read almost anything you put in front of me. At twenty-six I will still happily browse the teenage section for a good, shorter read. And I’m not the only one – the success of The Hunger Games trilogy has proved that. Maybe we don’t even have the age barriers there once were.
I think it’s a great thing that children (and adults) are free to read whatever they choose now. There will always be the ‘girlie’ books and the ‘boy’ books for the very young. I can’t see an eight year-old boy picking up an Animal Ark book voluntarily, nor will many girls choose Captain Underpants as their first choice. That’s not a bad thing either. Sometimes you need to fit the stereotype now and again. As long as they have the freedom to choose, and as long as there are those transcendental series such as Narnia and Harry Potter to bring them together, I say let them read what they like.