In terms of literature I’ve never really thought of genres as specific to gender. I figure a book good for the goose is also good for the gander, and vice versa (possible exceptions include “50 Shades of Grey” and anything with a picture of Fabio on the cover).
However, when my 9-year-old son picked out a couple of books from the “Goddess Girls” series I was silently surprised. The series is overtly marketed to young girls, but he didn’t seem to notice. He only knew that the series was about Greek mythology, and he was growing impatient waiting on the next “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” book. He is a focused kid, and right now reading is all Greek to him (see what I did there?).
We sat down in the library and he started talking about the series and how interesting it looked. I sat there in agreement, alternating nods with words of encouragement, and let him make his pitch.
“It’s about a bunch of goddesses,” he said, and then he named every goddess on the cover.
“Sounds good,” I said.
Then I waited for the other shoe to drop. I knew that soon he would sigh, shrug his shoulders, and accept that the books, as interesting as they surely were, had been written for girls, and therefore he was doomed never to read them according to the Snip, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails Act of 1943. The reckoning had to come soon, the library was closing.
It never did.
The whole issue that wasn’t started me thinking about an interview I heard on NPR with Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the new sequel, The Legend of Korra (they had no part in the movie version of the original series, which was a notable flop), two of the best kid-centric/family entertainment shows to come out in the past forever.
Apparently, when DiMartino and Konietzko took the idea of Korra to Nickelodeon, some of the executives were concerned that a female lead would lose viewers. According to the NPR interview, “Girls will watch shows about boys, but boys won’t watch shows about girls.”
Turns out that isn’t the case. The show is a huge hit with boys and girls (and parents), and not once have I heard anyone say that it is a “girl’s show” — and why should they? It is a show, and it is fantastic.
He finished the books in two days. He couldn’t put them down.
“Can we go back to the library?” he asked. “I want to get the next “Goddess Girls” book!”
“Of course,” I said. “You can read any book you want.”