Borders Follow-up

As a follow-up to this post, I told my students about my experience at Borders.  I presented them with my experience and just asked for their thoughts.  At first, I think they thought I was crazy, just telling them about wandering up and down the aisles.  However, as soon as I mentioned the “Books for Boys” and “Books for Girls” signs, they were horrified.  Hands immediately flew into the air, waving, while their mouths opened, jaws dropped.  They brought up some great points, and I was so proud of them!  Here are just a few of their thoughts:

- What  happens if someone wants to read a book that the store has labeled for the opposite gender?  Would they decide not to read it then?

-How come the young adult and adult books aren’t divided by gender?

-That’s sexist!

-Lots of girls love science-fiction and fantasy!

-Books aren’t girl books or boy books.  They are just books.  Anyone can love any book.  Just like they can dislike any book.

-Why do they use genres for the rest of the categories?  Boy and girl are not genres.

-Let’s write them a persuasive letter and tell them to change their categories!

You know what?  I think we just may use that last suggestion.  Next week is our last full week of school and we will write a letter from our class to our local Borders, asking that they stop using gender as category for their books!

Borders Book Categories

I took a few minutes this afternoon to stroll through my local Borders Bookstore. I wanted to make sure…..oh heck-I needed a few books!

As I headed toward the Children’s and Young Adult sections, I suddenly became lost. You see, the children’s section has moved. And so has the Young Adult Section. They are now located in the same section, just categorized differently. I began to stroll up and down the aisles, trying to get my bearings. The categorization of books at Borders has always overwhelmed me. They are sometimes separated by genre, sometimes by age, sometimes by publication date, sometimes by series. It always takes me forever to find what I am looking for. Case in point, today I found Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It in one aisle. The new companion, the dead and the gone, was nowhere to be found. I eventually found it- 3 aisles away, in a completely different category.

And that leads me to my issue with Borders’. While wandering the aisles (sometimes lost, sometimes just aimlessly), I was shocked to see that the Children’s books are divided by gender. Gender! There are entire shelves of books labeled “Books for Girls (Independent Readers 8-12)”. At first, this was ok with me. The books mostly seemed to be those like How To Be A Girly Girl In Just Ten Days (Candy Apple). Yeah, probably not a lot of 10 year old boys dying to read that! However, it did irritate me that Borders assumes all girls do want to read books like that.

The worst part of all? Guess what genre is almost exclusively shelved under “Books for Boys”? Science-fiction and fantasy! Think of any huge fantasy series right now, and it was filed under books for boys. Excuuuuse me? When I was younger, I was a huge fantasy fan. While I probably wouldn’t have been fazed by the boy connotation, I knew plenty of kids who would be.

Looking around my classroom, I see all types of books in the hands of my boys and girls. They have no qualms about reading various genres and don’t seem to have any preconceived notions about boy and girl books. I would hate to see that ruined for them by a chain bookstore looking for a neat and tidy way to organize their books. Even worse, I fear that parents will see these categorizations and make assumptions that girls should only read these types of books, and boys should only read those types of books. There has to be a better way!

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