Why So Few Girls In Children’s Books

Here’s a very interesting article by Jennie Yabroff from the Washington Post:

Why are there so few girls in children’s books?

The main characters — whether they’re human, animal, a snowplow or a crayon — are almost always male.

images-1.jpgFirst, the central character in more published children’s literature is male. Like the movie biz, girls (it’s kiddie lit, remember) are necessary for some semblance of reality but they are generally not the lead character (the hero) and they are not paid as much as the boys.

Yabroff writes:

Of the 69 Caldecott Medal and Honor winners since 2000, just four — “Kitten’s First Full Moon,” “Interrupting Chicken,” “Olivia” and “A Ball for Daisy” (which has no text but identifies Daisy as “she” on the jacket copy) — have animal protagonists that are clearly identified as female. Recent bestseller lists are topped by books starring crayons, fish and a snowplow: all male or non-gendered. Lists from Scholastic and Time magazine of the best 100 picture books include fewer than 10 female non-human characters. If these books reflected reality, we wouldn’t have to wonder why the dinosaurs went extinct — there were no females around for them to reproduce with.

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Roald and the Penguin Factory

imagesThere has been a bit of a kerfuffle over the cover art chosen by Penguin to illustrate the Roald Dahl novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The two main objections: it is upsetting and inappropriate for a chldren’s book and it is not representative of the contents of the book. Most commentators concluded that they would never give the book to a child. Despite the common use of children as a shield covering the adult person’s inability to accept the problematic facts of life, let’s look at the cover, in fact the covers of the entire Penguin re-release of the works of Roald Dahl, and let’s consider the works themselves.

Let’s start by defining our terms, but in this case each reader should consider the question for themselves: What is a children’s book?

Here’s the cover:

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Are you against YA?

CharlotteThis is a controversial subject: I have known many adult readers who regularly read and enjoy Young Adult or even Juvenile fiction. Since my first “A” at the university was in Kiddie Lit, I have some background in the literary analysis and appreciation of fiction written for the younger set (I also took The Bible as Literature and that too gave me an appreciation of another 17th century work other than by Shakespeare and, contrary to what most believers might expect, actually reading the Bible supported my understanding that it was all fiction).

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