All posts in Books

Do we need more female villains in books?

Lesson plans – gender bias in children’s books

Recent research found just one female ‘baddie’ in the top one hundred best selling picture books. These ready-to-use lesson plans for World Book Day look at gender bias in children’s books as a way of opening discussion on everyday sexism in books and films.

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shelf of children's picture books

Constructing bias – the wonky world of picture books

New research released this week by the Observer newspaper shows how picture books present children a worryingly lopsided view of the world: with males outnumbering females 2:1 among significant speaking characters, and male villains in 89% of books with ‘baddies’. Jess Day takes a look at the results.

The Observer’s research looked at 2017’s 100 top selling picture books: non-human characters (animals and monsters) were nearly twice as likely to be male, while you were twenty times more likely to come across an all-male book, than an all-female book.

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Books for Young Children – Let Toys Be Toys gift guide

We believe all children should be able to choose freely the books they like best and we celebrate all the marvellous writers, illustrators, publishers and booksellers that avoid putting boy or girl labels on books. Here we list some of our favourite reads for the very small people in our lives.

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Two years on – who’s letting books be books?

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Since we launched our books campaign on World Book Day 2014, ten publishers have agreed to Let Books Be Books. Two years on, who are the publishers still labelling books ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’?

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Buster Books becomes 10th publisher to agree to #LetBooksBeBooks

We are pleased to say that UK children’s books publisher, Buster Books, an imprint of Michael O’Mara, has become the tenth publisher since our campaign began to ditch gendered book titles and agree to “let books be books”.

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Scholastic responds to petition from Els, 8

Good news that young campaigner Els has heard back from publisher Scholastic, in response to her petition asking them to stop promoting books labelled ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’ in their school book fairs. Read their response, and find out what Els and her friends have to say. Read more…

Children hold up Let Books Be Books written on pieces of paper

WIN: Scholastic agrees to let books be books

Following a petition from 8-year-old Els, Scholastic has become the ninth UK publisher to agree to drop ‘for girls’ and ‘for boys’ labels from books.

Els has written to Scholastic asking them to stop stocking books labelled ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’ in the book fairs that regularly visit the school. Says Els in her letter, “No books should be ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’… Books should be for everyone and we all like different things.” She gathered support from friends at school, getting over 80 signatures for her petition. Read more…

Child's drawing of a person holding a book that says 'Let Books Be Books' on the cover, surrounded by children's names

‘No books should be ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls” Els, 8, tells Scholastic

Eight-year-old Els was really annoyed to see books labelled ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’ in the range brought to her school by the regular Scholastic book fair. Annoyed enough to want to write to the publisher, and get her school friends and their grown ups behind her. Read more…

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Any book for any body

This World Book Day, alongside the Society of Authors we’re asking authors, illustrators and readers to share examples of books they’ve loved and enjoyed that maybe didn’t fit other people’s (or their own!) expectations of what boys and girls, men and women, are ‘supposed’ to like.

Share your own examples – email us at lettoybetoys@gmail.com or tweet us @lettoysbetoys #anybookanybody Read more…

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  • Catherine Johnson Experiment 2
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  • Anne Fine experiment 10
  • Joanne Harris Experiment 3
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  • Malorie Blackman
  • SF Said Experiment 1
  • John Dougherty Experiment 1
  • Bel Mooney Experiment 3

Let Books Be Books – supporters