At A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, Liz has great look at the Cave, a boy-focused reading area of one school’s library. The topic of boys being reluctant readers isn’t new, and while I think it’s great that librarians are looking for ways to share books with boys, it’s hard to get enthusiastic about an idea that makes girl readers feel unwelcome. As Liz says:
“I just wish that it was done in a way that did not exclude girls from an opportunity for ownership and empowerment; and did not do it in a way that says, “this is a boys area but girls are welcome, also.” Because, personally, I find that not welcoming or equal. Labelling books as either “boy” or “girl” does a disservice to boys, girls, and books and limits rather than enhances reading opportunities.”
I think the Cave would be more successful if it had the same elements–books about adventure or fantasy, funny books, cool decor–but didn’t label anything as gendered. Why can’t boys and girls both get excited about Eragon or Wimpy Kid? Even if more boys end up in that part of the library, there’s no suggestion that it’s where boys should by or where girls can’t be. Shouldn’t we be moving towards a society of readers that doesn’t care if the main character or author of a book is male or female?