Dead Man Talking
by Carol Hedges

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The introduction by Alec Williams provides lots of handy tips on getting everyone reading!


13. Ideas to reach girls

  • Improve signposting of girls’ fiction in the library, maybe using a free bay, or the end panel of an island bookcase to show some authors to try (have these on bookmarks, too). This approach may avoid the need for a full-scale ‘girls’ section’, which has drawbacks, such as polarising reading tastes, and reducing any ‘middle ground’, that both sexes could share.
  • Include girl-friendly fiction, or ‘pink lit’, in the material you read aloud (Animal stories, fantasies, stories about real life, stories about families, perhaps with an element of romance, for example).
  • Remember girls in the websites you highlight - authors’ sites which have ‘girl appeal’, fan fiction sites, and soap sites, for example.
  • Feature, in your boy-friendly titles, those in which girls play a more balanced part (compare Robert Muchamore, Charlie Higson, Joe Craig and Anthony Horowitz, for example).
  • Identify those authors or titles which may be read equally by boys and girls (Alex Shearer’s Tins, or Pete Johnson’s Bad Spy’s Guide, for example. Joe Craig claims his readership is 50:50 girls and boys).
  • To balance the more ‘girly’ fiction, consider titles which question female stereotypes - e.g. Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Pretties and others, or Sara Lawrence’s High Jinx.
  • Look also for stories with feisty female leading characters - Carol Hedges’ Spy Girl, for example, Lyra in Pullman’s His Dark Materials - and maybe including some of the ‘alternative folk tales’.
  • Manga can appeal to girls. (Shōjo, or Shoujo Manga [as opposed to Shōnen Manga], is the term for Manga titles specifically aimed at girls from around 10-18). Also titles based on Anime characters, such as Inuyasha. Why not start a manga club, to see if it attracts the girls?
  • Books with TV or film tie-ins - currently, for example, books and graphic novels from the Heroes TV series, and from the Twilight film.
  • The diary form of story (e.g. Jean Ure’s Boys Beware, and Jacqueline Wilson titles) can succeed especially well with girls - perhaps echoing their own blogging and social networking styles of writing.
  • Consider visits by female authors. Well-known authors include: Cathy Cassidy, Cathy Hopkins, Chris Higgins, Jacqueline Wilson, Jean Ure, Yvonne Coppard, and Louise Rennison - and there may be good speakers from authors nearer to your school.
  • How about a scheme to recognise reading role models among girls? Girls can now be Reading Champions, or you may have a ‘Reading Angels’ scheme.
  • The more sociable aspects of reading are often prominent with girls - book talking, peer recommendations, ‘book dating’, using bulletin boards, and the VLE chat function.
  • Dramatising parts of books, and texted reviews can work better with girls.

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Department for Children, Schools and FamiliesSchool Library AssociationReading for Life

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