Or: What I Learned From KidlitCon 13.
I kind of have some unformed thoughts that I’d like to put into something Grand and Introspective, but I think it’s just going to end up being a jumbled mess.
One of the questions that was brought up in the Middle Grade panel was reader ages and appropriateness, and since we’re really blogging for the gatekeepers, rather than the readers themselves, what we, as bloggers, can do to help with that. And the thing that I got out of it was this: ages for books are Not Helpful. Rather, content advisories are preferable. So: one of the simple changes is that I’m going to do away with the age range on the books. Instead, I’m going to (briefly, I hope) mention anything I think is worth bringing up (ie, anything “offensive” or just general content), the general “feel” of the book, and where I’d shelve it in the bookstore. And then let the reader decide the age.
I hope that helps.
Also: the thing I took away from Lee’s panel was that labeling posts — not broadly, but specifically — helps reader find posts better. And that my general categories — middle grade, YA, science fiction/fantasy — are not especially helpful. So, I’m going to try to be more specific in my labeling. Hopefully, that will help readers better be able to find books.
And: I think I’m going to start a monthly list feature. It was one of Jen Robinson and Sarah Stevenson’s suggestions in order to get blogging groove back. And it came up again in Lee’s session. I’m going to try to, once a month, come up with a list of books on some topic that I think are worthy.
Which brings me to gender issues.
The question I asked in the middle grade panel was this: I find that I have a very hard time selling a book with a cover like this
to the parents/grandparents of boys. And sometimes, even, the boys themselves (though not as much, since I don’t really interact with kids that often.) Likewise, I have problems selling books like this
to parents/grandparents of girls, though less so.
I know a lot of it is the way “we” as a society raise our boys. (Granted: I don’t have ANY experience with this, having 4 girls, but this is what I’ve observed.) We are much more comfortable, for many reasons, with our girls being Masculine than our boys being Feminine. But, what I’m really asking is not how to Solve This, but rather, what can I, as a blogger (and a mother of girls and a bookseller), do to help people the truth that every avid reader knows: a good story is a good story! I’m not sure I have answers, but I am thinking about it, which is more than I was before.
Other people have brought this up in better ways than I can. Shannon Hale, obviously (I didn’t dig through her blog to find a specific post, but she often blogs about gender issues), but also go check out what Charlotte and Anne Ursu have to say about the AASL panels this coming weekend. Either way, it’s going to be an ongoing discussion, and one I hope I can add to.
Which is all one blogger/mom/bookseller can ask.