Boys vs Girls vs Boys vs Girls

I had planned on writing this post way back in July – seems like a long time ago while simultaneously feeling like yesterday. Coincidentally, a discussion regarding the topic of “Writing for boys or girls” popped up on Twitter recently, you can find the transcript here , so the timing is right on.

Does it matter to the Middle Grade reader if the book is targeted for boys or girls? Should an author beginning a new novel take gender into consideration?

An author/teacher tweeted the following:

@jmaschari I am very reluctant to classify any book to my students as a “boy” book or “girl” book – really limits audience + puts stigma.

Of course there are topics that one gender would pickup more often than the others, as well as books specifically geared toward boys or girls.

THE DOUBLE-DARING BOOK FOR GIRLS AndreaJ. Buchanan (Author), MiriamPeskowitz (Author) 

   THE BOY’S BOOK OF SURVIVAL Scholastic (Author)






Also, some books are targeted to a gender by its cover.

THE MAP OF ME TamiLewis Brown (Author)







Some other stereotypes:

Boys want action

Girls want quiet

Boys want boogers

Girls want mucus

Boy want pranks

Girls want drama

Boys want grime

Girls want love

Here are a couple of books that have broken certain stereotypes:

Boys want boy protagonist – Than explain this…

THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT (Maximum Ride, Book 1) JamesPatterson (Author)







Girls want girl protagonist – Then explain this…

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE J.K.Rowling (Author), Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)







Fellow Mixed-Up File Member and potential genius Kurtis Scaletta tweeted – @mudmamba: If you ever say “boys like” or” girls like”… you are ALREADY WRONG. No matter what comes next.

I think this statement would have carried more weight had Kurtis not followed this tweet with: My favorite kind of jam is made from “toe” – I’m kidding, Kurtis would NEVER tweet that… :whispering: it was a direct message to me. I’m kidding! Really.

Here are some other books that break the mold:

SISTER’S GRIMM – The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (Author), Peter Ferguson (Author)







CRY OF THE ICEMARK by Stuart Hill (Author)







The discussion brought for forth some other great comments:

@timothypower67: MG books with something for everyone can’t go wrong!

@jmaschari: I always based my suggestions on knowing the reader- not their gender.

@kellybarnhill: Why are we still having conversations in which books are gender identified? Why? Books should BREAK barriers, not build them.

@AngelaAckerman I think this is why covers are so critical–they need to appeal to boys and girls. Of course, @AngelaAckerman followed this brilliant comment up with Oh dear, washing machine is making angry noises…brb – And I’m NOT kidding this time!

To summerize… turn the heat up, lather on some suntan lotion, lay back on a lounge chair with an icy drink and a cool pair of sunglasses.

OH… WAIT… I’ll mean summarize this way…

It really all comes down to the individual, not all boys like one thing, nor do all girls like another. A good book will attract both. Let’s let the reader decide. No?

Thoughts? And if you have any book recommendations that break the stereotype, please give them a mention

Brian Kell