A school girl in California has managed to convince a publisher that it isn’t only boys who are interested in insects.
Parker Dains, seven, from Milpitas in California, wrote to Abdo Publishing after she discovered that the Biggest, Baddest Book of Bugs that she was reading was part of a series called the Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys. She told her local paper the Milpitas Post: “It made me very unhappy. I was like, ‘What the?’ I said, ‘Dad we have to do something quickly.’”
So she wrote to Abdo, telling the publisher that “I really enjoyed the section on Glow in the Dark bugs and the quizzes at the end”, but that “when I saw the back cover title, it said ‘Biggest Baddest Books for Boys’ and it made me very unhappy. It made me very sad because there’s no such thing as a boy book. You should change from ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ into ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys and Girls’ because some girls would like to be entomologists too.”
According to the local paper, the publisher responded and told her she had made “a very good point”. “After all, girls can like ‘boy’ things too,” wrote Abdo, adding that it had “decided to take your advice”.
Dains has since received an early delivery of the series, which is now called simply Biggest, Baddest Books. “You can see that we dropped the ‘For Boys’ from the series name and we all agree here at Abdo that it was a very smart idea on your part. No other school, library or kid will be able to buy these books for another couple of months, so you are the first to read them,” it wrote.
Dains told the paper: “I think it was so awesome and Abdo learned a lesson … If boys want to, boys can have long hair, and girls can have short hair, just in case they like to keep hair safe from head lice like some of my friends did in my class.”
Her victory in the US is the latest in a series of changes made to children’s stories, after campaigners in the UK began calling on publishers to remove “boy” and “girl” labels from books. Last month Ladybird became the latest publisher to agree to stop labelling books with titles like The Beautiful Girls’ Book of Colouring or Favourite Stories for Boys, following pressure from campaign group Let Books Be Books. Authors including Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris and Malorie Blackman have all supported the campaign.
Jess Day from Let Books Be Books hailed Abdo Publishing’s reaction. “What a great, positive, response from the publisher to Parker’s letter,” she said. “It’s good news that they’re taking off these labels – science topics like space and insects are for everyone, and it’s a shame when limiting ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ labels tell children otherwise.”
This article was written by Alison Flood, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd December 2014 13.36 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010