A local author has pledged her support to a campaign asking publishers and retailers to stop labelling books for boys or for girls.
Abby Tarttelin, author of Golden Boy, told the News she has been closely following the ‘Let Books Be Books’ campaign which is asking publishers to take ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ labels off books to allow ‘all children to choose freely what kinds of stories and activity books interest them’.
Ex-Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School pupil Abby said: “I am very passionate about this subject and applaud the campaign.
“I’m writing books, like Golden Boy, based on the idea that most of our ideas about gender roles and stereotypes are constructed from life experiences and pressure to conform to societal norms.”
Abby’s latest novel, Golden Boy, is about Max Walker, a young, intersex child.
“It’s a real shame that we begin to pressure people at such a young age to conform to standards they can have no say in themselves,” Abby continued.
“It’s very important to me that we make every effort not to discourage girls from an interest in science or engineering, and not to discourage boys from building a huge collection of teddy bears or seeing strong female characters in the books they read.”
The campaign was started by the Let Toys Be Toys group, initially set up to ask retailers to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls or for boys.
The campaign says ‘Children are listening, and take seriously the messages they receive from books, from toys, from marketing and the adults around them. Do we really want them to believe that certain things are off-limits for them because of their gender?’
Abby added: “While books should be underpinning the education parents give their children, the tendency of publishers to gender literature undermines the hard work of good, strong, tough working Mums and loving, sensitive, and caring Dads who make enormous efforts to give their children a well-rounded view of the world.”
Additional backing for the campaign has also come from the poet laureate Carol-Ann Duffy and a number of other authors including Philip Pullman. The petition for the campaign can be found on the Let Toys Be Toys website - www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk.