I’m afraid that my first blog post might be a bit specific, but here it goes. As I was reading the Keywords article on Children’s Literature, a notion stuck out to me. While discussing the nature of the term “children’s literature” and what it might mean, the article cites the Oxford English Dictionary as defining “children” as “boys and girls”, and then says that Matthew Grenby asks: “Is there such a thing as children’s literature? Might it be more accurate to talk of a boys’ literature and a girls’ literature?”. This is a good question, as it seems like most children’s literature does appear to be marketed toward either boys or girls. It’s not surprising, really, considering that the first question that someone asks when they find out that a woman is pregnant is, “boy or girl?”. Certain colors are considered feminine and others masculine, and certain toys are okay for girls while others are made for boys. Therefore, it makes sense that a good deal of literature for children would be separated in the same way. 

Indeed, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass seems to be marketed toward a young female audience in particular, and it’s no surprise, given that Dodgeson was telling these stories to three young girls before he wrote them down. The number of times that Alice asserts that she is a “little girl”, in fact, points to the idea that the books are geared toward a female audience, especially for the time they were written; one finds it hard to picture a young boy identifying with Alice’s character as much as a young girl would have. Also, when Alice is trying to figure out who she is in Wonderland, one of the first qualifiers she looks at is the fact that she doesn’t have ringlets, and therefore she can’t be Ada, because “her hair goes in such long ringlets” (Carroll 25). 

There are other examples of this practice of gender separation outside of our class readings, as well. For example, The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan and The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Igulden. Both books are full of activities to do, adventures to go on, crafts to make, and things to write, but there was considered such a difference between the two genders that they required two separate books. Or, it was purely a marketing choice. Either way, the choice was made, and Grenby seems to have had a point.

 

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