A parents’ campaign to remove genders from titles of children’s books has taken down another major publisher who has wowed that all of its titles from now on will be gender neutral and available for all kids, whether they are male or female.
The Let Books Be Books campaign, began by a group of parents in 2014 to persuade book publishers around the world that putting gender specific titles on their books send messages of limitation to children, and that colouring book covers pink or blue do the same thing to persuade young minds that they can only appreciate princesses and pink dresses, or action figures and space trucks. The campaign has already, in its first two years, persuaded nine publishing houses including Ladybird and Usborne that they should drop gendered books titles, and the latest publisher to agree to the campaign is Buster Books, part of the independent press Michael O’Mara.
Let Books Be Books has support from several well regarded authors such as Joanne Harris and Neil Gaiman, who agree that “blue covers, with themes of action and adventures, robots, space, trucks and pirates contrast with a riot of pink sparkles, fairies, princesses, flowers and butterflies.” Michael O’Mara previously refused to get on board with the campaign, telling the Guardian in 2014 that “when you have a colouring book which is specifically for a boy or a girl, it sells three times as many copies as one without the sexual categorisation.”
However it appears that now the publishing company has given in to the campaign as it posted on Twitter last week that going forward all of its titles will be gender neutral, scrapping books that are targeted specifically for boys or girls. “Buster has one of the highest number of gendered books,” said Tessa Trabue of the Let Books Be Books campaign, as she congratulated the big publishing firm on “putting the interests of children before profit.”
However, the campaign still has a fair way to go if it plans to eradicate gender specificity entirely from children’s books, and Igloo Books is one of the next publishers on its list. The publisher is one of the biggest publishers of gendered books, according to the campaign, and Ms Trabue said that Let Books Be Books have not received any response from the company to their “petition, emails or tweets,” since the beginning of their campaign two years ago.
The CEO for Igloo Books, John Styring, told the Guardian that he didn’t believe it was the company’s place to make decision on the behalf of their customers. However, children’s authors including writer John Dougherty, chair of the Society of Authors’ children’s writers and illustrators group, said “the idea of ‘books for boys’ or ‘books for girls’ has become a pernicious way of reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes from an early age.”