Monday, April 9, 2012

Would I teach this?

As I read through my books for YAL I ask myself, would I teach these in my own class, and for many of the books that we have read, my answer would be yes, but there are some books that I just don't see as being enjoyable to both sexes. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I read Change of Heart- a novel about a young girl overcoming heart failure- it may seem gender neutral to some at first, but after getting wrapped up into a few pages you will realize that the book is geared more toward young adolescent girls. Most of the story is about how boy-crazy the girl is, with a few details about her heart failure mixed in here and there. I try to to imagine what it would be like to be a 16 year old boy reading this book, and it is something I can't imagine. If I were a 16 year old boy, I likely would have put the book down after a few pages and went to class claiming that I read it, when in actuality I would not have. Another book that I just read for this class is called The List. What is it about you might ask? A list that is posted in a high school each year naming the prettiest and ugliest girl in 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. The book to me seemed very gender biased, yet again aimed at young adolescent girls, and just like Change of Heart, I can't picture myself using it in my classroom. I might recommend them to students that ask me for suggestions to read, but that is unlikely as well since I just genuinely wasn't that much of a fan of either of them. While I was reading Change of Heart I enjoyed it somewhat, but now reflecting on the book after reading it a few weeks ago I realize that I liked it less than I thought originally. These books just seem like adolescent versions of "chick-lit" to me, and sure some guys might enjoy these books, but I just think that in my personal opinion I would prefer to teach something more gender neutral in my classroom.



  1. Or you can teach some "chick-lit" and some "dude-lit" because there are plenty of books out there geared toward a young male audience.

    Even though boys will hate "Change of Heart" and girls will hate whatever dude book you teach, I think it's important for each gender to read both. Boys need to see how girls are socialized to think and vice versa.

    Personally, I would teach chick lit that has much more substance than "Change of Heart" or "The List," but that's just me. Gendered lit isn't all bad. You just have to weed out the terrible books (and those two books happen to be extremely awful examples) and find the books worthwhile for your students.

  2. I agree with you and Tym on different levels. I am a guy and I loved the Hunger Games, which had a female protagonist and a confused love story. I think the level of story can break those gender boundaries. If something is "chick-lit" or "dude-lit" then it should be suggested as an independent read for a student who would appreciate it. If something is going to be classified as either one of those instead of just good-lit (and I'm not only referring to "great" "L"iterature and classics), there is no reason to be teaching them (at least I don't think so.) I'm thinking of Outsiders by Hinton, that story is powerful enough that it doesn't matter that the story is more geared towards guys or Alice stories by Carroll which is geared toward girls.