Shannon Hale on reading and gender.

Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare , by Shannon Hale

Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare, by Shannon Hale

If you follow Shannon Hale on Twitter or elsewhere, you’re probably already aware that she’s a huge advocate of taking gender stereotyping out of book recommendations.

If not, you’re in luck! She wrote an essay about it for the Washington Post:

I have now asked thousands of kids the same question: “What kind of books do you like?” They answer: fantasy, funny, comics, mystery, nonfiction, etc. No kid has ever said, “I like books about boys.” And yet booksellers tell me parents shop for their sons as if books have gender: “I need a boy book. He won’t read anything about a girl.”

Not only does this kind of thinking prevent boys from learning empathy for girls, it also prescribes narrow gender definitions: There is only one kind of boy, and any boy who does not fit that mold is wrong.

Stories make us human. We form bonds by swapping personal stories with others, and reading fiction is a deeply immersive exercise in empathy.

So, what happens to a culture that encourages girls to read books about boys but shoos boys away from reading books about girls?

Read the rest of it here.

Also—and no doubt unsurprising for fans of the series—her new book in the Princess in Black series, Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare, is GREAT.