Princesses, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and books for all genders with Shannon Hale

Small things we say to kids can have very large impacts on their life. This is the case with both the words we speak in kindness as well as those throwaway lines about “what a boy does” or “what a girl does.”

In this episode I talk with Shannon Hale, author of books like Princess Academy, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and The Princess in Black about the differences she sees in how her stories are received by boys and girls and how the gendered treatment of stories (and so much of the way we treat kids) is problematic.

We also talk about representation in stories and in authors and the importance for parents to seek out diverse stories to share with their kids and to focus on conversations and questions afterwards.

A very useful shift you can make today is how you positions and talk about stories. Talk about genres of stories, and as she mentions, talk about a book as being “about” a boy or a girl versus being “for” a boy or a girl. We even get in to the completely ridiculous treatment of women superheroes on clothes for boys.

Things like the absence of raven and Starfire in Teen Titans Go! merchandise and the oft-discussed swapping out of Captain America for Black Widow in Avengers merchandise.


On gender and reading:

Books by Shannon Hale:

Shannon Hale on Twitter:

New Study Shows Us That Female Superheroes Give Girls Confidence and Inspiration: