Stand Strong Girls

Archive for the tag “Let Books Be Books”

2014: A Summary

2014 has been an exciting year on Stand Strong Girls, with new campaigns and victories. In this post I will do my best to summarise some of the topics that have appeared here this year.


One of the issues I mentioned this year was the debate of single-sex education versus co-education. Drawing on my own experience in both types of schools, I tried to reason out the pros and cons from both points of view. While I still remain firmly in support of co-educational schools, I tried to appreciate the advantages of single-sex education as well.

I also wrote about women’s universities. Their numbers are growing in developing countries, where they are often women’s only option for higher education. However, in western countries their numbers have decreased significantly in recent years. I am of the opinion that women-only universities are just a short-term solution to the problem of women still being barred from many universities.


This year was Read Women 2014, a campaign started by writer and illustrator Joanna Walsh that encouraged people to read more books written by women. At the moment, I’m doing quite well, reading Code Name Pauline. It is about the experiences of Pearl Witherington Cornioley, an SOE agent during WWII. The book was edited by Kathryn J. Atwood. Earlier in the year I read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a novel based on SOE agents’ experiences.

Let Books Be Books campaign also kicked off this year. The campaign aims to put an end to the gender specific branding of books. Already several publishers and booksellers have got on board, promising to stop producing or selling gender specific books.

                               Adventurous Women

The Adventurous Women series began this year, a series of post about women who achieved, created or just did something different.  I have already written about the pilot Amelia Earhart, the nurse Mary Seacole and Sophie Germain, who was a mathematician. I also wrote about Katharine Wright, who helped to develop the first aircraft and Nadezhda Durova who served in the Russian cavalry. If you know of a woman you think deserves a mention, please let me know.


I’ve talked quite a bit this year about how children’s toys have changed from neutral and non-gendered to the pink and blue gender-specific toys that we know today. One example is Lego, which seems to think that girls can only build with pink blocks. However, this year Lego produced the Research Institute, featuring three female scientists.We saw it being put to good use by Donna Yates, who tweeted pictures of Lego scenes using the new set on @LegoAcademics.

                                  Malala Yousafzia

As an education activist, Yousafzia has made the news quite a few times in 2014. I read her book earlier this year, I am Malala, co-authored by Christina Lamb. Yousafzia also won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, along with Kailash Satyarthi, to recognise their struggle for children’s right to education.


I have written about campaigns such as HeForShe, Man Up and White Ribbon this year. One thing these campaigns have in common is that they are looking at the role men have to play in order to build an equal world. I think this approach is hugely important because it shows that inequality is not just women’s problem and that it is up to everyone to resolve it.

These are not all of the topics that I blogged about in 2014 but I think I have covered all of the bigger ones. I’ll be back in 2015. Happy New Year!


Books are for everyone

British authors, publishers and bookshops are supporting a campaign to stop children’s books being labelled as ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’. The Let Books Be Books project was launched a couple of weeks ago by the Let Toys Be Toys campaign who support gender neutral toys.

It has already gained a lot of support in its efforts. Publishers Parragon and Usborne have promised to stop producing titles labelled ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’. Waterstones back the project along with a lot of authors. These include Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials trilogy; poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy; children’s laureate, Malorie Blackman and the former children’s laureate Anne Fine.

Illustrated classics for boys published by Usborne

Illustrated classics for boys published by Usborne

A petition asking children’s publishers to ‘stop labelling books, in the title or on the packaging, as for girls or for boys’ has gathered over 4,000 signatures.  The project is now looking at shops such as WHSmith, who gave an indefinite answer as to whether they would cease to sell gender specific books. The children’s publisher Buster Books has also come under fire for producing books like The Beautiful Girls’ Colouring Book and The Brilliant Boys’ Colouring Book.

Illustrated classics for girls published by Usborne

Illustrated classics for girls published by Usborne

The books pictured here are published by Usborne. Although Usborne have now promised to discontinue these titles, it is interesting to see just what the campaign is against. Below are the descriptions of the two books pictured as stated on the Usborne website:

                    Illustrated classics for boys

  • A lively collection of six thrilling classic stories of action and adventure.
  • Stories include Moonfleet, Around the World in 80 Days, Gulliver’s Travels, Robin Hood, The Canterville Ghost and Robinson Crusoe.                                                                                                                     Illustrated classics for girls
  • A delightful collection of six timeless classic stories to enchant and delight.
  • Stories include The Story of Heidi, Little Women, The Railway Children, Black Beauty, The Secret Garden and The Wizard of Oz.                                                                                                                                                       Reading these descriptions makes me wonder how any of the stories mentioned above could be labelled as ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’. I have read almost all of those stories and enjoyed every one, I am sure there is nothing to stop a girls liking the ‘boys’ stories’ or boys enjoying the ‘girls’ stories’. I hope this campaign will be a big step in putting an end to publishers and bookshops trying to stop children discovering stories and activities that they could end up loving.              Do you have any thoughts about gender specific titles? Why not sign the petition on Let Toys Be Toys? Click to sign the petition for Let Books Be Books

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