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.

Forthcoming COOL not CUTE events

Futurebook Author Day

Monday 30th November 2015. 2:00 pm
30 Euston Square

Organised by The Bookseller, the Futurebook Author day is the opening event of the week-long Futurebook Conference which "brings together leading thinkers in publishing, retail, editorial, writing, marketing and tech, along with speakers from other industries."

The Author Day runs from 9.30am to 7.00pm

I'll be talking about how children's publishing can attract more boy readers and bridge the reading for pleasure gender gap as part of the "Allied Interests" panel chaired by Bookseller editors Sarah Shaffi and Caroline Sanderson. Other panellists and allied interests include:

• author/illustrator Sarah MacIntyre: crediting illustrators (#PicturesMeanBusiness)
• translator Louise Rogers Lalaurie: crediting translators (#NameTheTranslator)
• writer Nikesh Shukla: diversity in the workplace
• The Bookseller's Acting Books Editor Cathy Rentzenbrink

More details at:

Tickets at:

Previous Events

Youth Libraries Group Conference 2015

11.05-11.45 am Saturday 24th October 2015
Beardmore Hotel & Conference Centre, Glasgow

I'll be discussing boys' literacy and the reading gender gap with librarian and literacy consultant Barbara Band at this year's Youth Libraries Group Conference. The theme of the conference is diversity.

Further details of the full conference programme at:


Seeing Yourself: Diversity in Picture Books • Children's Book Circle Event

11.05-11.45 am Saturday 24th October 2015
80 Strand, London, WC2R 0RL

I'll be discussing diversity in children's picture books books and picture book pulbishing as part of a panel event organised by the Children's Book Circle. Other panellists include, Beth Cox co-founder of Inclusive Minds, Joe Marriot, picture book editor, Janetta Otter-Barry, publisher and Tom Bonnick, Business Development Manager at Nosy Crow.

Further details of the full conference programme at:


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