Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

126 views
GENERAL DISCUSSIONS > boy or girl main characters?

Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments As an author, I have a MG series which has a female main character. I have long wondered:
-if boys will read a book with a female MC
-if books with male characters sell better.

I remember as a teen I didn't do a lot of reading outside of class, mostly because I was uninterested in romance novels which tend to characterize the YA genre. As a kid I liked Goosebumps, Hard Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. Goosebumps was evenly divided between boys/girls (I did not care about the MC's gender because the stories were great) and the other two had boys has MC's. I liked the mystery element. So I wonder if it was just me or if I was standard as a kid.

I appreciate honest thoughts. I am just looking for observations or opinions from others. Maybe you have sons or daughters or grandkids who read.


message 2: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Pett | 1350 comments Mod
Most of the time I didn't worry whether the MC was male or female as long as there was a pony in there as well! I think all the adventure books we had were boys and girls, including the tomboy who I always thought was the best person there :)


message 3: by Cheryl is busier irl atm. (last edited Dec 01, 2015 07:03AM) (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) I hope my understanding is out-of-date, but I was informed (in teacher-training) that boys tend to avoid books 'about' girls, but girls will look for a story-line or genre they like, and not care if the MC is girl or boy.

And by 'about' girls I mean that even if the main character is a boy, if it's about, say, a family, and the boy has sisters, a boy reader might be reluctant to pick it up.

But I learned that some years ago, so, again, maybe I'm wrong. After all, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials features a girl, and boys like that series, asaik.

Sorry I can't help more, but barring other modern kids' opinions, Jemima and I offer what we've got. ;)


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Eisenmeier (carpelibrumbooks) | 74 comments I never really cared much, but I'm female.
I have a really hard time getting boys into my bookstore to read, and buy, books, period, so I couldn't say much. From what I've seen though, boys kind of prefer boy characters or non-fiction.


message 5: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Angell (heidiangell) | 28 comments My boys and I love reading and are more interested in the story than if the character if male or female. My 14 year old loves Hunger games and Divergent (both MCs female.) We all adore Rick Roirdan's books, and appreciate both the male and female characters. As long as the character is relatable (like me, like me, like my friend) I think gender is not so important. Now would my boys enjoy the Babysitters club? Probably not. I sure didn't care for it as a kid.


message 6: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments I've asked some authors this question, and they think, as Cheryl said, it's the storyline that drives readership. Heidi, the problem with Babysitter's club from a boy's standpoint is it's clearly written for girls, whereas I assumed my storyline was gender-neutral.

Melissa- I've heard this before. You're onto something. That may mean either finding a better marketing strategy for boys to read, or some type of rewards club for boys. Or publishing more guy-oriented stories.


message 7: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Angell (heidiangell) | 28 comments Sam, I agree, Babysitters club was written for "girls" a certain type of girl. I wasn't that type of girl. But I would say that Hunger Games and Divergent were gender neutral stories who happened to have female MCs and are thoroughly enjoyed by my eldest boy. And Rick Roirdan has lots of female characters in his stories that my boys thoroughly enjoy reading. Boys aren't turned off by reading through the eyes of a girl. People (Male and female) are turned off by stories in which they cannot relate. People (often boys) who are looking for excitement and adventure, are turned off by stories about the everyday mundane things. Focus on the genre and the genre fans will come to you whether your character is male or female.


message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura | 3 comments Katniss Everdeen


message 9: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Reynolds | 43 comments I think that is more likely for children to read book where the main character is the same gender, However, I have also found that girls are more open to male characters. All of my manuscripts feature girls because I can write female the best, but I would love to hear what everyone thinks would sell better :)


message 10: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments Madeline wrote: "I think that is more likely for children to read book where the main character is the same gender, However, I have also found that girls are more open to male characters. All of my manuscripts feat..."

I would assume boys, because if in fact it's true girls are less bothered by a characters gender, then you're increasing your potential audience. I wonder if someone has ever done a study of the sales of MG novels with boy or girl MC's, or a combination.


message 11: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Reynolds | 43 comments That would be ineteresting :)


message 12: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Moore Hi Sam/Madeline,

As a long-time author I have found it is the STORY that dictates the interest of the readers (male or female) not the gender of the central characters.

Out of interest I've looked at the central characters of my books and they go: Boy/Boy/Cat(female)/Cat(female)/Girl/Boy/Boy/Fey(male).

I've never found any link between sales and character gender... only the nature of the story.

I hope that helps.


message 13: by Lori (new)

Lori (loriadversario) | 33 comments I do think many boys and girls find themselves relating a bit more to characters of their own gender, but a strong story usually trumps gender preference. I notice that many MG books feature an opposite gender platonic sidekick. I think this works well. Unless there is pink glitter or a fairy princess on the cover I think most boys would at least read the description before passing. :)

I do find gender and book selection interesting. Based on my experience working the school book fairs and volunteering in the classroom it seems like boys may be more likely to choose non-fiction than girls. I wonder if they might also be pickier about fiction.


message 14: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1662 comments Mod
Lori, I was surprised to learn (when my boys were little and the eldest, especially, refused to read any fiction) that boys very often do prefer non-fiction. Probably right up until they discover fart jokes and then serious adventures (based on my kid's progress into fiction). I'm not entirely sure why that should be the case for most boys; for my eldest it made sense because he has Asperger's Syndrome, and that seems to give a predisposition for things like facts that can be grasped more fully than the human motivations in stories.


message 15: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Reynolds | 43 comments Stephen wrote: "Hi Sam/Madeline,

As a long-time author I have found it is the STORY that dictates the interest of the readers (male or female) not the gender of the central characters.

Out of interest I've looke..."


I agree with what you are saying. You have completely enlightened me! While I would still put boy main characters in a neutral book, it makes sense to put a male character in a book most likely to be enjoyed by males and vise versa. Thanks so much Stephen!


message 16: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Moore You're welcome, Madeline.


message 17: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments Stephen wrote: "Hi Sam/Madeline,

As a long-time author I have found it is the STORY that dictates the interest of the readers (male or female) not the gender of the central characters.

Out of interest I've looke..."


Great to know. That's another topic right there: What constitutes the 'story', whether it's 'male' or 'female'. I think I get why it's so rare to have a breakout story! Appealing to one group works best, though knowing if one has appealed properly is the hard part.


message 18: by Richelle (new)

Richelle Hi
For me it is the story. I don't care if it is male or female dominated, I want to be transported into the plot. I want some mystery and suspense. I definitely want a good twist to the story, one that will leave me transfixed by the result. I like to have a reason to turn the next page rather than turn out the light.
Richelle


message 19: by Richelle (new)

Richelle I have asked my kids and they agree they don't care about boy or girl they read by storyline. They like something that grabs them, action, mystery and adventure. Excitement and non-predictable characters is their main want in a book.
Hope this helps from the middle school and YA points of view.
Richelle


message 20: by Marty (new)

Marty Conley | 4 comments As a sixth grade ELA and Reading teacher I can say that boys prefer books with a male MC, but if the story is packed with action and suspense and has a strong female MC, i.e. Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, then they will read it. As a teacher, I wish there were more good choices for boys - so many good books that appeal to girls - many fewer that appeal to boys.


message 21: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments Marty wrote: "As a sixth grade ELA and Reading teacher I can say that boys prefer books with a male MC, but if the story is packed with action and suspense and has a strong female MC, i.e. Katniss Everdeen in Th..."

I got a 10 year old boy who said he liked it because it appealed to both boys and girls. There was a lot of action and not too much in the way of "girly" (like doing hair and nails) things, but there is enough for girls to like as well.

A lot of the lack of books for boys I think is due to the assumption that boys don't read, and since most people involved in children's book decision-making are women, who are making subjective choices on the books they like, they end up picking books they would have liked as girls, and more often than not those books do not appeal to boys.


message 22: by Melody (new)

Melody Bremen (melodyjbremen) | 66 comments I know that my nephews say that they will never read a book if the main character is a girl.


message 23: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments Melody wrote: "I know that my nephews say that they will never read a book if the main character is a girl."

How old are your nephews?


message 24: by Melody (new)

Melody Bremen (melodyjbremen) | 66 comments Sam wrote: "Melody wrote: "I know that my nephews say that they will never read a book if the main character is a girl."

How old are your nephews?"

11 and 10. I think. It changes every year, so it's hard to keep track.


message 25: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments That is interesting. So far two 10 year old boys said they liked it, and I posted it to wattpad where mostly girls have read it but a few boys liked it. However, my concern is (and the reason I posted this question) that if a boy sees a story with a girl MC, will he be automatically turned off? One suggestion was to change the title which I agree with, in order to get the initial interest, but then it becomes "I will read it even if a girl is the MC" or "I would never touch a book with a girl MC". It's just for research. Thanks for your answer!


message 26: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1662 comments Mod
Melody, maybe you can gently help your nephews over their prejudice, pointing out that they are excluding an awful lot of books without even looking. I grant you, that attitude seemed to be the norm when I was a kid, but it's not one we want to encourage. It goes right along with the idea that men are humans and women are something else.


message 27: by Melody (new)

Melody Bremen (melodyjbremen) | 66 comments Rebecca wrote: "Melody, maybe you can gently help your nephews over their prejudice, pointing out that they are excluding an awful lot of books without even looking. I grant you, that attitude seemed to be the nor..."
They do love reading, so I probably wouldn't have to work too hard to convince them to try a book with a main character that's a girl. We'll see if they can actually admit to liking it...:)


message 28: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 24 comments You can use mine to try. It's only a PDF but if they're okay with that, I will be happy to send their mother a PDF of my story and they can see if they like it.


message 29: by Melody (new)

Melody Bremen (melodyjbremen) | 66 comments Sam wrote: "You can use mine to try. It's only a PDF but if they're okay with that, I will be happy to send their mother a PDF of my story and they can see if they like it."
Thank you so much for offering, but I believe they only read hard copies.


message 30: by Richard (new)

Richard Knaak (richardknaak) | 9 comments I never had any trouble at that age reading books with female main characters. The story was always more important.


back to top