Not a Complaint So Much as a Lament

I just came across this recent photograph.

Take a look at it. Notice anything?

Here’s the info from the corporate Scholastic blog, On Our Minds:

Book-loving people from far and wide have converged upon New York City this week for Book Expo America — and along with it is probably the largest-ever gathering of book bloggers!

Several of them have put in some long hours organizing the first ever Book Blogger Convention (#bookbloggercon), scheduled for Friday, and we were excited to have about 20 of them here at Scholastic HQ on Monday for a tour of our home!

So, essentially, we’re looking at a sampling of 20 children’s book bloggers. Too bad we couldn’t have flown in, say, Travis Jonker, just to represent.

Sigh.

When we wring our hands over the gender reading gap, wondering what kinds of books will turn boys into readers, I always think: It’s not the books. The books are fine and plentiful. We’re missing the male role models, the fathers with books on their laps, the male teachers and librarians and editors and bloggers.

That the gatekeepers are overwhelmingly women naturally reflects a somewhat distorted perspective (good intentions aside) on books. We need more men — and no female blogger, book-lover, or reading advocate can be blamed for that.

POSTSCRIPT: For some other posts that touch upon this topic: 1) A Tribute to William’s Doll; 2) What Is A Book for Boys?; 3) Books for Boys?!; 4) And lastly, author Kurtis Scaletta recently shared his thoughts in a classic blog post, “How to Write for Boys.”

4 comments

  1. Kurtis says:

    We’re missing the male role models, the fathers with books on their laps, the male teachers and librarians and editors and bloggers.

    – Exactly right. Men tend to leave anything to do with kids to women, whether it’s parenting, teaching, or writing their books. I have felt like men are enthusiastically welcomed when they do enter the field, so it’s up to us to be those role models.

  2. I’m all about getting a male teacher hired at our school to be one of those good reading/writing role models.

  3. I was ill and unable to attend
    after getting to New York. Were
    any men on panels? Invited for
    panels? Maybe some men will offer
    to be recruiters next year.

  4. Jimmy says:

    I have a little side project I want to do on this topic, but I’m waiting for an opening in my schedule. I’ve decided to TRY to focus on the positive — which is not, admittedly, my standard default position.

    When I look at things like the Cybils, where something close to 90% of the judges are women, I can’t help but wonder. There are many downsides to this kind of imbalance.

    But one thing is clear to me: You can’t possibly blame the women who are involved — the teachers, librarians, etc. — and actively promoting reading for EVERY child.

    More than anything, boys need to see their fathers reading and enjoying books. Teaching, at its essence, is “enthusiasm transferred.”

    “I love this book” is not the same message as, say, “This isn’t my thing, but you might like this book.”

    To paraphrase a favorite line from Charlotte Zolotow: “You were never a boy. You don’t know.”

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