December 31st, 2007


Just Say No to Gender Bias

On a regular basis, I try to talk kids out of saying, "Oh, that's a GIRL book," or, "Ewww! Idon'twannareadaBOYSTORY!"

Guess what? I often succeed. How? First, I tell the hopeful reader about the story, why I like it, and why I think he or she will like it too. I make book recommendations based on the reader's personality, literacy, and interests, not on the gender of the reader, the writer, or the protagonist.

You'll find that most books - gasp! - have both female and male characters. Many books have a definite leading character, but that character most likely interacts with other characters. Plenty of books for kids have scenes at home and school, with parents, siblings, neighbors, classmates, and teachers. Between two book covers, you'll discover a new population of people and/or critters.

Now, this may or may not surprise you, but adults also say, "That looks like a girl book!" and "That looks like a boy book!" I told a parent about a great book about gymnasts, only to hear, "Ah, but gymnastics is for girls, and I have a son." Pardon me, but boys are gymnasts too. They are also incredible dancers.

Both genders can play any sport.

Boys and girls can play on the same team.

As you can tell, I don't like double standards, and I don't like gender bias.

Consider the following phrases:
"You throw like a girl."
"She's such a tomboy."
"Boys are doctors, not nurses."
"Presidents aren't girls."

Do you say these things?
Do you think these things?
Do you find any of them offensive?

Why assume that someone can or can't do something simply based on whether that person is male or female?

I encourage you to recognize talent and achievement wherever they may be, and not base things upon gender. Let someone's words, abilities, and actions be more important than their genetic code. Please encourage your friends, siblings, children, and students to do the same.

Talent knows no gender lines and has no gender bias.

You can do anything you set your mind to if you work hard enough.

Good books can and should be read by both genders and by all ages.

Discerning readers want to read (and will appreciate) a good book, period.

View all Bildungsroman posts which include a discussion of gender bias.

Related Booklists:
Hey There, Sports Fan
I am a Dancer

Related Articles:
Mining the Field and Challenging Readers
Gender Bias: Holiday Gifts

Their Favorite Books of 2007: Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott decided to pick ten books she read and loved this year - then had a really hard time narrowing it down to ten! Here they are, in no particular order:

The Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler
The Book of Dave by Will Self
The Double Bind: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt
The End of an Error by Mameve Medwed
No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City by Katherine S. Newman
Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
The Life Before Her Eyes by Laura Kasischke
Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe, and a High School Basketball Team in Arctic Alaska by Michael D'Orso

Find out what other authors have read and loved this year.

Their Favorite Books of 2007: Laura Wiess

Tomorrow, Laura Wiess's novel Leftovers will hit the shelves. Today, she shares her list of repeat reads from this year.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
On Writing by Stephen King
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (the whole series)
Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott
The Wisdom of Wilderness by Gerald G. May
The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald (and all of her adult books)
Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald
Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins
Good Girls by Laura Ruby
In the Space Left Behind by Joan Ackermann

Find out what other authors have read and loved this year.

Their Favorite Books of 2007: Laura Bowers

Laura Bowers snuck in her list of favorite young adult books she read in 2007:

13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher ("SO awesome!")

An Abundance of Katherines, John Green

Breathing Underwater, Alex Flinn

Head Case, Sarah Aronson

How to be Popular, Meg Cabot

Invisible, Pete Hautman

Saint Iggy, K.L. Going ("My favorite out of this list.")

I backdated this post so that it fell in line with the other participants.

Find out what other authors have read and loved this year.

Their Favorite Books: Kristen Tracy

Kristen Tracy also snuck in to list her favorite 2007 reads. Now I'll let her have the floor:

Rather than a comprehensive list, I picked the five most fabulous books that I read last year. Also, I'm going to explain why I found them so fabulous.

I LOVED Margot Rabb's CURES FOR HEARTBREAK. I thought it was basically a perfect book: charming, poignant, honest, funny, and the language had real integrity. Loved it!

I really liked Erin Vincent's GRIEF GIRL too. It was a sincere book, and I admired the way it confronted sudden loss. It didn't flinch. I thought it was raw and bold.

I read Jennifer Egan for the first time and I was glad that I found her. Her book THE INVISIBLE CIRCUS was incredibly interesting, and I was 100% hooked on it right until the end. The language was fabulous.

In 2005, one of my former students insisted that I read Beth Lisick's book EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL. It took me a year, but I finally got to it. It was the best! It was hilarious and enlightening and her storytelling seemed anchored by a certain wacky soberness that I found utterly compelling. At some point in my life, I hope, hope, hope to be seated next to her at a dinner party.

Okay. I said only five, and now I feel like a big liar-face, because I'm going to close with two authors, and taken together they exceed one book. Last year, I read every book Sherman Alexie ever wrote (poems and prose). He is an amazing writer and I have complete admiration for his stuff. Also, I read Libba Bray's A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and REBEL ANGELS and I thought they were both smashing and fearless. Lots of texture. Lovely writing. And I admire the work's historical scope.

There are a slew of other authors out there that I read and loved last year: Scott Westerfeld, John Green, M.T. Anderson (I actually met him and John at a book event in Kalamazoo and taught them both a thing or two about bear safety -- I hope), E. Lockhart, Justine Larbalestier, Elizabeth Scott, Deb Caletti, Cecil Castellucci, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan (whom I always pronounce Leviathan for some reason), Maureen Johnson, and on and on. Very fertile fields out there.

Find out what other authors have read and loved this year.


Their Favorite Books of 2007

The challenge: Consider the books you read this year and name your favorites.

The participants: Contemporary authors you know and love.

The rules were simple: List as many books as you'd like. Books could be for any age group, from any genre, and published in any year. (In other words, they weren't limited to books published in 2007.)

Just wait until you see who's read what!

Monday, December 10th: Christopher Golden
Tuesday, December 11th: Sarah Miller
Wednesday, December 12th: Lorie Ann Grover
Wednesday, December 12th: Dia Calhoun
Thursday, December 13th: Robin Brande
Friday, December 14th: Sara Holmes

Monday, December 17th: Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Tuesday, December 18th: Deb Caletti
Wednesday, December 19th: Tom Sniegoski
Thursday, December 20th: Kerry Madden
Friday, December 21st: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Monday, December 24th: Justina Chen Headley
Monday, December 24th: Tara Altebrando
Tuesday, December 25th: Rachel Cohn
Wednesday, December 26th: E. Lockhart
Wednesday, December 26th: Caridad Ferrer
Thursday, December 27th: Laurie Stolarz
Friday, December 28th: Micol Ostow

Monday, December 31st: Elizabeth Scott
Monday, December 31st: Laura Wiess
Monday, December 31st: Laura Bowers
Monday, December 31st: Kristen Tracy

Many thanks to all of the participants!

Further reading: Colleen at Chasing Ray is also posting end-of-the-year booklists under the tag Recommendations From Many Bookish Folks.