Earlier this week, a coworker mentioned that she was reading an Oprah book selection and asked if I had read it yet (I believe it was The Two Hotel Francforts). I said that I had not and when I reached for the book to read the description, she responded with "Oh that's right. You only read 'little girl books.'"
I've had a fair share of people making fun of my preference for reading children's and young adult literature (as well as my preference for working with children and young adults), so I smiled and laughed it off, but on the inside I felt like:
Why? Because it was a fellow library coworker who voiced this insult. I can semi-understand when people who aren't well versed in the land of YA and children's lit think that it's a little strange. But a fellow librarian? Hurtful!
She probably thought it was harmless and maybe it is; maybe I'm overreacting. But to me it's a sexist, insulting remark to casually toss around. It suggests to an entire gender and age group that their book selections are meaningless. What exactly makes a book a "little girl book?" Are they restricted to featuring only "little girl" activities? Are boys even allowed? Do they require less mental capacity to understand? Do they have stickers? Are they height based? Did she mean Thumbelina?
What would have been unoffensive:
- "Oh that's right, you prefer to read young adult books."
- "Oh that's right, you prefer reading different types of books."
- "Oh that's right, this book might not have crossed your radar."
- "Oh you should give it a try, I think you'll like it."
So, under the assumption she meant that "little girl books" are dainty, easy to digest, and not intellectually or emotionally stimulating*, here are my
Top 5 "little girl books" that I read this year:
1. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
History, spies, torture:
2. I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga
Jasper Dent investigates a series of murders taking place in his hometown. Why? Because they're copycat versions of the murders his serial killer father committed years ago.
Murder, psychological manipulation:
3.Does My Head Look Big in This?, by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Amal, a Muslim Australian attending a rather non-diverse school, decides that she wants to wear a hijab (head scarf) full-time. She is met with criticism from her family, friends, classmates, and strangers.
Religious prejudice, sexism, cultural identity:
4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth
A young teen coming to terms with her sexuality believes that she is the reason her parents were killed in an airplane crash. She is forced to attend a gay conversion camp by her aunt.
LGBT, guilt, suicide:
5. The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
A teen battling body issues and constantly hoping for acceptance from her family, must now cope with the shattered images of those closest to her.
Rape, eating disorders, coming of age:
*Is there anything wrong with those types of books? NOPE. Have I read books that may fit that description? Absolutely. But to merely classify all of children's lit and YA as "little girl books" and act as if that is somehow beneath you is what's wrong.