I’ve set up this blog because I want to start a debate about gender bias in picture books.

I believe that the scarcity of male gatekeepers in the picture book industry means that its output reflects boys’ tastes less than girls’ and that this lack of gender-balance is exacerbating the gender gap in children's reading abilities.

My argument, based on my experience as both an author and a parent, is set out in the three essays below.

scroll down further for blog posts


cool not cute: what boys really want from picture books

This two-part essay contains my main argument.

Part 1: The Uneven Playing Field argues that the lack of gender-balance among publishers, teachers, librarians and picture-book-buyers is making picture books more appealing to girls than boys.

Part 2: The Missing Ingredients lists some of the ingredients with boy-typical appeal that are missing from most picture books and suggests ways to gender-balance picture book appeal.

Click here to view/download a pdf of COOL not CUTE Click here to view/download an EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of the essay


nature and nurture: boys will be boys

This essay looks at some of the scientific evidence that suggests that BOTH nature and nurture are responsible for sex differences in children's preferences.

Click here to view/download a pdf of NATURE and NURTURE


fighters and fashionistas: the spectre of stereotyping

This essay addresses concerns about gender stereotyping which may arise from the assertion that some preferences are boy or girl-typical.

Click here to view/download a pdf of FIGHTERS and FASHIONISTAS


These three essays were revised and updated in February 2015. You can read a blog post outlining the revisions and the reasons for them here.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Gender-balanced Greenaway and Carnegie Update 2

Further to my last update in June, I’m pleased to report that I’ve made some progress with my proposal to get the Carnegie Greenaway Children’s Book Awards judged by a gender-balanced panel.

To set the record straight, I’m told that the organisers drafted a response to the original email I sent them in March but, due to an oversight, it was never sent to me.

Over the summer I got in touch with Joy Court, the new chair of the Carnegie Greenaway working party, who explained to me that the working party have no influence over the selection of individual judges, who are selected by the Youth Libraries Group members in the region each judge represents. However Joy arranged for me to put the case for a gender-balanced judging panel to YLG members through their October newsletter, which can be read here.

I’m very grateful to Joy and the newsletter's editor Helen Thompson for giving the proposal a fair hearing in this way.

Joy's response to the article will be published in the November issue of the newsletter, along with any responses from YLG members.

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