Usborne confirms – no more books ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’

We’re really happy that award-winning children’s publisher Usborne Books have confirmed to us their decision to stop producing books with ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’ in the title.

Usborne were the first publisher to respond positively to the #LetBooksBeBooks campaign, telling Guardian Books on 7 March that they took feedback on the gender-specific titles very seriously, and had no plans to produce any new gender-specific titles. 

Currently, Usborne lists over 30 gendered books on their website, with titles such as Cookbook for Girls, Cookbook for Boys, Illustrated Classics for Girls and Illustrated Classics for Boys.

In a recent meeting with LetToysBeToys, Anna Howorth, Marketing & Publicity Manager for Usborne Books, confirmed this decision, and said: “Usborne will be retitling all of our books titled ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’ (with obvious, necessary exceptions – for instance Growing Up For Boys/Growing Up for Girls). From a commercial point of view, people do buy these books, and we will probably be losing money.”

Peter Usborne, Founder of Usborne books, added: “We may lose some sales over this; we will do this because it is the right thing to do.”

We are really pleased that a respected publisher like Usborne is making this change, living up to its commitment to “investing in the future through the children who read, learn from and treasure Usborne books.

Gendered books clearly do sell, or else publishers wouldn’t make them – but we think this divisive method of marketing has harmful consequences, and doesn’t reflect what children really want.

Please let Usborne books know what you think:

7 Comments

  1. Sara

    BUt will they also make sure that their warrior and explorer books (for ex) also have women in them? not as ‘tokens’ but because women were explorers and warriors, and did play roles in WW1 etc

  2. All books are being reviewed and will be updated as appropriate for future reprints!

  3. g

    Try just renaming titles 50:50 both of
    “for boys and girls”
    And
    “for girls and boys”

    That’ll let those who care make their own biased choices, and you keep your neutrality and sales….? Slightly higher cost for 2 print runs…

  4. Anna5084

    This is good but content needs reviewing also. Read ‘ get dressed Max and Millie’ to my baby daughter yesterday to find Millie dressing up as a princess and fairy and max dressing up as a builder and superhero – hardly the sort of message I want her to get from books!

  5. A decent historical sticker dressing up series would be greatly appreciated. One where half the population of an entire culture aren’t eliminated would be a start (Romans).

  6. Christina

    This is so dissapointing to hear. It makes me want to stop selling the books. When did it become wrong to embrace the things that make us who we are. That make us unique. How confusing to children to tell them boys and girls are the same when in fact, we have amazing differences that help us understand ourselves.

    • My children are quite capable of embracing their identity as a boy and girl without books instructing them that girls are meant to like fairies and princesses and boys are meant to like robots and dinosaurs. If differences in interests and preferences are truly innate then children will choose along gender lines without labels to instruct them – no-one loses out. And if they aren’t, then they’re better off being free to choose for themselves. There are many amazing differences between my children – none relate to the kind of pictures they like to colour in.

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