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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On “On the Rights of Reading and Girls and Boys” (from March 2012)

garth-williams-little-house3“Laura and Mary may be the heroines, but if you want to stick to stereotypes, has anyone noticed how much of this book is about the technical construction of homes and barns and icehouses or how many pages are devoted to guns and hunting and defending oneself?”

Hilary Rappaport writes passionately about not limiting kids’ reading choices based on gender in her March/April 2012 Horn Book Magazine article, “On the Rights of Reading and Girls and Boys.” Like the gendered toy aisles in Target, the ubiquitous lists of “boy books” and “girl books” reinforce cultural stereotypes about who can read what and deprive young readers of the freedom to make their own choices.

It’s not just booklists that are the problem, though. Reading this article shed light on my own preconceived notions about my kids’ reading. I doubt I would have thought to read the Little House books to my boys. My information-sponge eight-year-old and thrill-seeking seven-year-old aren’t as egalitarian in their reading preferences as Hilary’s sons, but I know that my guys would be fascinated by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life on the prairie. (A refreshing palate cleanser between the Pokemon and Minecraft books they’ve been borrowing from their school library.)


About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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