“Mam, can I have a book?”

Dear everyone,

This is an open letter to you all. Hello, I’m Steph. I’m a teacher, a lover of books and a reader of all kinds of books. I am technically an adult, yet I read mostly Young Adult books (which I am NOT their target audience), Middle Grade books (again, I am NOT the target audience for these) and picture books (I have definitely surpassed the age which I am the target audience for these). What does this say about my opinion on books? Books are for everyone. 

So many times I hear some semblance of the following conversation

Child: “MUUUUUUUM/DAAAAAAAAAD I would love this book! Please”
Parent: “Oh no, you can’t have that book it’s pink/about princesses and you’re a boy, they’re meant for girls” OR “Oh no, you can’t have that book, it’s blue and got cars/superheroes on the front, it’s meant for boys“.

I voiced this recently on twitter and A LOT of people had feelings about it and in general they agreed with me. Books are for people. Books aren’t for genders. Yes, stereotypically girls like princesses and pink and boys like blue and superheroes. But if I think of my goddaughters, Ruby breaks that rule completely. She loves superheroes, dinosaurs and cars. I would be so hurt if I knew that my cousin wasn’t letting Ruby read a book because it was “blue/designed for boys”. Poppy, however is a huge fan of princesses and pink.

Children need to be able to read a WIDE variety of books and need to be allowed CHOICE when reading. If they want to pick up a book that is not what you stereotypically want them to read, then maybe you should step back and think ‘WHY don’t I want them to read it?’ If there’s a GENUINE reason then cool, that’s your right but if you don’t want your son or daughter to read a book because it’s “pink for girls and blue for boys” then maybe, just maybe, accept that books are for everyone.

If the world abides by this ‘YOU CAN ONLY READ BOOKS THAT ARE AIMED AT YOU BEING THEIR TARGET AUDIENCE‘ then I can’t read YA, MG or picture books. These books make me a better teacher. I ENJOY these books. I don’t read them because someone is making them. I read them because I want to. Because they look like they interest me.

It’ll be the same for your kids. They pick up a book because it interests them. Not because it’s blue/pink. We need to get away from that. It hurts my soul as a teacher and a reader.

Thanks for listening, pick up a book of any colour or genre and enjoy it

S x

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