Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Fantasy for Girls

I decided today that I must be a snob. At work, we’re trying to get all the fiction books on the Primary campus assigned to a genre. So each week we’re going through and sticking labels on. Today I was picking out the fantasy books and sticking a cute little dragon on the spine. I didn’t mind attaching them to the Narnia chronicles, the Ranger’s Apprentice series, Harry Potter or to the one and only Ursula Le Guin book I found (I’ll have to fix that!) - but I found myself loath to attach them to the myriad books about fairies, princesses and unicorns that the library has. There can be ten or fifteen of them in a series and the little girls love them, but I found myself wondering if they’re not just the Barbie dolls of literature.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. When a friend recommended I read ‘The Princess Academy’ by Shannon Hale (for the sole reason that the main character had the same unusual name as my daughter) I almost didn’t, just because of the title – my snobbery has been around for a while apparently. But it turned out to be a really good book, certainly not the frippery I expected. Unfortunately that's not in the library either. Something else to fix.

So perhaps I should read some of these books at school and see why the girls read them…After all, at least they get them reading. Maybe I will...one day…but not till I’ve read some of the other really good books! In the meantime I'll be taking special note of any more 'good' fantasy for girls, so that I can steer my daughter towards them when she's old enough to read them. On the other hand, maybe I should start thinking of my own fantasy for girls. Now, there's an idea.