Boys' Own Stories; Women's Domination of Publishing Industry Could Be to Blame for Lads Lagging Behind Girls in Literacy, Says Children's Author, and That's Why We Need More

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), April 22, 2014 | Go to article overview

Boys' Own Stories; Women's Domination of Publishing Industry Could Be to Blame for Lads Lagging Behind Girls in Literacy, Says Children's Author, and That's Why We Need More


Byline: Craig McQueen

WE'RE used to hearing that boys are lagging behind girls when it comes to levels of literacy but now a leading children's author has warned that women in the publishing industry could be to blame.

Jonathan Emmett said books aimed at boys were being squeezed out due to the large proportion of women in publishing jobs, from editors to reviewers.

The writer of books such as Bringing Down the Moon and Pigs Might Fly quoted figures suggesting that 95 per cent of picture books are bought by women and that boys are being starved of books featuring characters such as pirates or astronauts.

"I am arguing that this is because the industry is dominated by female gatekeepers," he said.

WRITER "Mums and grans buy books - that's what's driving the market.

"They read the book and then there's a tendency for the book to reflect their tastes.

"It is one of the things that leads boys, and girls with boy-typical tastes to say, 'I am not interested in that kind of content, I am more interested in video games'."

His own study of newspaper reviews of children's books found that two-fifths of fiction books were written by men but that twothirds were reviewed by women. Men also wrote nearly half of picture books but more than fourfifths were reviewed by women. Emmett's comments come a month after campaign group Let Toys Be Toys, who are encouraging retailers to stop labelling toys as being for boys or girls, targeted World Book Day, asking publishers to stop labelling activity books in the same way.

Campaigner Tessa Trabue said: "Every child is different and has their own individual taste. …

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