General · reading

B is for Boys Fiction

I was going to choose some other topic for B because, truthfully, I am not sure what boys fiction is. But then I thought, why not speak about my confusion?The_Hero_and_the_Crown

I don’t get how boys fiction is defined. I really don’t. Is it when the main character is a boy? Or when the author is a guy?

It’s only since I’ve been blogging that I’ve heard the term. The first time was probably when someone posted a review about the TV version of Games of Thrones and called it boys fiction. I was shocked because I’ve no idea what makes it boys fiction. (I was less shocked by the rest. Some people don’t like fantasy and I think that particular review was more about the genre than the TV show.)

So, okay, it’s not chic flick-ish. But beyond that? I don’t know. It’s not as if there are no women in Game of Thrones. And it’s a type of fantasy I read off and on in grade school and more regularly afterward. So, yeah.

As a child, it never really occurred to me there were books I shouldn’t read. Maybe such thoughts occurs to boys? Maybe they see a dragon, a girl on a white horse and a female writer’s name, and decide the book isn’t for them? (The cover for the Hero and the Crown, a childhood favorite.) It seems strange to me.

So I just don’t know what makes a story boys fiction.

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18 thoughts on “B is for Boys Fiction

  1. I wonder if it’s when the main character is something a boy would relate to more than a girl – like you I’m not really sure what makes it that. I know when I wrote Jumping At Shadows my main character was a heroine and her side kick was her friend Rosy – did this make it girl fiction? Interesting how genres and labels get attached eh.

    1. If you mean the Hero and the Crown, than yes, it is okay for a 9 year old. But if you mean Game of Thrones, than no. I have only read a little of the first book, but I would never give it to a child.

  2. I’m posting about bookish topics during the A-Z Challenge too!
    What I think is interesting is that it seems to be “OK” for girls to read books that tend to be marketing towards boys, but rarely will a boy want to be caught reading a typical girly book. I wish more teachers and librarians would cross over and enthusiastically recommend both types of books to both sexes.

  3. Looks like a book I would’ve enjoyed as a ‘girl’ and would probably still enjoy, and last time I checked I was not a boy. It’s a shame to categorize things like this. Sometimes it seems like we’re making progress on not specifying gender expectations and then some marketing genius comes up with another blooper. I’m definitely confused too.

  4. I would guess “boys fiction” doesn’t include much (or any) romantic elements. Just the (probably young male) MC against the bad guys (I had a comment in a review recently: “the characters got a little lovey dovey at one point”).

  5. I agree that books shouldn’t be labeled by gender. Girls and boys should be free to choose whichever book sounds interesting to them. It’s been a long time since I read Hero and the Crown. I’ll have to go dust off my copy.

  6. When I taught, we were told the conventional wisdom was that girls would read books about boys, but not vice versa. Ironically, the only time I had a student refuse to read a book because of gender was when a girl started skipping class rather than read The Outsiders by SE Hinton. Telling her the author was a woman got her back to class, but not into the book.

    I do think this is about marketing and culture, as opposed to something innate. The first three people I recommended The Time Traveler’s Wife to were all men. Like me, they read it as science fiction. I was dismayed to find out it was marketed as romantic fiction and “women’s literature” — that seemed to cut off readers who might otherwise champion the book.

  7. I never even considered boy fiction before, but I don’t believe in girl fiction. Fiction is genderless to me. In the 80s, I read a book about a teen boy finding a motorcycle in the lake and started racing. I think it was Dirt Bike Racer. Perhaps that could be considered boy fiction, but I don’t see why it couldn’t appeal to girls, and not just because some girls race motorcycles.

  8. I tend to agree with Katherine. I did find that initially boys were more reluctant to read about girl protagonists than about a boy protagonist. Ultimately, however, if the story is one that grabs their interest quickly, they will read it regardless of gender.
    The marketing machines have created these labels.

  9. Game of Thrones is definitely not boys fiction. I couldn’t imagine allowing a child under the age of 16 reading that series (unless they were quite mature).

    Boys fiction reminds me of The Hardy Boys series. That was geared towards young boys. Of course, girls read it too, but it was mostly for young boys.

    1. I remember reading the Hardy Boys, and perhaps it was directed more towards boys. But at the same time, there was nothing really specific about it that screamed boys only. There were examples of proper behavior for boys, things boys should be into and like. But not so alien that a girl wouldn’t find interest in reading.

  10. Often times in trying to understand what something is, we should try to address what something isn’t.

    Now forgive me ahead of time, as I am a guy, and I was once a boy. But I am going to make some generalizations.

    First off, I don’t know if there is a such a thing as “Boys Fiction”. There is definitely “Girls Fiction”. Fiction that caters to what little girls are into, involving more romance than not. Involving animals, or dynamic female characters. While girls can definitely read fiction meant for boys, few boys read fiction meant for girls.

    As a boy, the story I would read would often times have a boy character, someone as a boy I could relate to. Females were often secondary characters. It wasn’t always the case though. One such story, “My Teacher’s an Alien”, the first book of the series had Protagonist as a female. But she didn’t specifically standout as a female specifically. One could argue, that she was a male character in disguise. I would argue that the true differences between males and females at that age is very blurry and that a female could rise up to the role as hero.

    Not having read fiction directed to females, I honestly couldn’t say what they are. I have vague memories of seeing horses on the cover. Also the Babysitter’s Club comes to mind. I do recall reading Island of the Blue Dolphins, but that was a requirement for class, and the female character didn’t exactly have problems specific to a female, but problems for any character in her situation.

    Plus Number of Stars and Ramona’s a Pest were read by the teachers in class. I thought the stories were good, but I wouldn’t be caught dead walking around with said book, in fear of getting bullied.

    I remember the Goosebump series had prominent female characters.In those stories, I would argue that the females were not stereotypical female characters, or rather they didn’t stand out specifically as female characters…they were just characters dealing with a story.

    I guess what constitutes a boy story is where the gender line is blurred, but mostly focus on troubles that some character’s face in childhood. Getting bullied, not being popular, dealing with a troubled home, annoying siblings. Again, not necessarily directed at boys. Unlike girls books that seem to try to cater to that specific market.

  11. I liked The Hero and the Crown, and I read it because I’d already read and liked the ‘sequel’, The Blue Sword (which also has a female protagonist). I don’t understand the idea of ‘”girls’ fiction” versus “boys’ fiction” either, but then, I have always read mostly science fiction and fantasy, so it’s not as if I had to make any effort to avoid bland mainstream ‘life is meaningless if you’re not dating someone and are the most popular kid in school’ stories, which is what I saw most of my female classmates reading when I was a teen. (I dislike most mainstream fiction; I am NOT against any story because of the author’s or protagonist’s gender.) On the flip side, a lot of people used to think — still seem to think — that boys only want to read sports stories and such, and I HATED those.

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