Gender-Labeling of Children’s Books and Reading Preferences as Represented through the KidLitosphere

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Emily Seitz

Abstract

This article discusses a qualitative study conducted as part of a dissertation on gendered literacy. The findings are based on sampling and analysis of data drawn from 23 blogs that are part of the KidLitosphere, a website aggregating blogs dealing with children’s literature. It discusses the primary findings relating to the genderlabeling of children’s books, including 1) bloggers’ and commenters’ direct labeling of books as “girl”‐ and “boy”‐preferred; 2) educators’ expectations of boys’ reading preferences; 3) bloggers’ and commenters’ consistently mentioning certain books and/or series, coded “iconic boy books,” in reference to boys’ reading; and, 4) educators’ expectation that boys prefer male protagonists and girls prefer female protagonists. It also discusses resistance to these themes in the form of 1) bloggers’ and commenters’ speaking directly against the labeling of books as “girl”‐ and “boy”‐preferred; 2) bloggers’ and commenters’ expressing the belief that a child’s sex should not influence the child’s reading preferences; and, 3) educators’ not expecting girls to prefer what are perceived to be “girl”‐preferred texts, or boys to prefer “boy”‐preferred texts.

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