Campaign to stamp out 'books for boys,' 'books for girls' gains traction

A campaign titled Let Books Be Books has received the support of authors, a newspaper, and bookseller Waterstones, and the related petition has garnered more than 4,000 signatures.

A petition that is advocating for labels such as 'for boys' and 'for girls' be removed from children's books has gathered more than 4,000 signatures.

A UK campaign to take such phrases as “for boys” and “for girls” off children’s books has garnered thousands of signatures for its petition and has seen writers and a newspaper advocating for the change.

The campaign is titled Let Books Be Books and is related to the Let Toys Be Toys campaign, in which supporters advocate that toys be marketed to all children rather than one gender or the other.

The Let Books Be Books petition on, which asks publishers to take off “for girls” or “for boys” phrasing from regular books as well as activity and sticker books, has received more than 4,000 signatures.

“How can a story or a colouring page be only for a girl or only for a boy?” the petition reads. “A good book should be open to anyone, and children should feel free to choose books that interest them.”

UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, UK children’s laureate Marjorie Blackman, and “His Dark Materials” author Philip Pullman, among other writers, have said they support the initiative, according to the Guardian, while the bookseller Waterstones has said the company “[doesn’t] buy gender-specific books centrally” and they consider “gender-specific displays … a definite 'no'.”

Publishers Parragon and Usborne have said they will no longer release books with such titles.

In addition, the literary editor for the UK newspaper The Independent, Katy Guest, has said she will not review books that have such designations and that they will not be covered on the newspaper’s book blog.

“If you are a publisher with enough faith in your new book that you think it will appeal to all children, we’ll be very happy to hear from you,” she wrote. “But the next Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen will not come in glittery pink covers. So we’d thank you not to send us such books at all.”

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