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”.
Ladybird, the iconic publisher of children’s books including the classic Peter and Jane reading scheme, has vowed to remove any “boy” or “girl” labels from its books because it doesn’t want “to be seen to be limiting children in any way”.
The publisher, which is due to celebrate its centenary next year, is the latest to sign up to the Let Books be Books campaign, which argues that labelling books with titles like The Beautiful Girls’ Book of Colouring or Illustrated Classics for Boys sends the message “that certain books are off-limits for girls or for boys, and promotes limiting gender stereotypes”.