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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Boys, Girls, Books

There is an interesting article at School Library Journal, School Library Builds “The Cave” to Attract Boy Readers.

I could easily turn this into a tl;dr post about boys, girls, books, gendered reading, empowerment, equal opportunities, etc etc — but, well, that would become tl;dr. Plus, I’ve already commented (twice) at the original article, above.

Here are a couple of links about “the Cave” that I found of interest:

Gendered Reading and the Discomfort of the “Man Cave” at The Missouri Review

Library Introduces “Man Cave” Section for Boys Only at 41 Action News KSHB

Note that while the library may be playing with the “man cave” name, the library calls it “the Cave,” not the man cave or boy cave. Also, based on the article and videos at the library website, while this is called a “boys section” and boys only were involved in the planning, selection, creation, and ribbon-cutting, girls are welcome in the space.

From the second link, I want to highlight one quote: “Girls at the school have mixed feelings about the boys-only section. “I kind of wish it was a girl thing,” said student [redacted]. “I mean I wish there was something cool for girls, too. But, I don’t know. It’s cool.”

I love, love, love many of the ideas the library staff created and implemented. Listen to the videos at their website and how the grouped and labeled similar books to make them easier to find. Brilliant, inventive, ideas.
I just wish that it was done in a way that did not exclude girls from an opportunity for ownership and empowerment; and did not do it in a way that says, “this is a boys area but girls are welcome, also.” Because, personally, I find that not welcoming or equal. Labelling books as either “boy” or “girl” does a disservice to boys, girls, and books and limits rather than enhances reading opportunities. On that general topic, see He Won’t Read Books About Girls at the Shelf Talker blog at Publishers Weekly; and Sell The Girls, a blog post by Maureen Johnson.
Anyway, go, read, think, comment. I believe right now the comments at the SLJ article are 50/50 split.
About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. Whew, I finally figured out how to read past the first 4 comments on the post. (What the heck, SLJ?) I suppose it’s not surprising that so far most of the people defending The Cave are apparently men. What I am surprised is that many people commenting do not seem to see how this whole set-up is exclusive — and that by saying “this is where the boy books are,” you might be sending the message “don’t bother with those other (girl) books.” I maintain that a high-interest book / casual reading area could have included everyone and achieved the same thing.

  2. Lisa, I do think there are some very good ideas — and I love to see enthusiasm created for reading — I just am bothered both by omission of consideration for the girls, and the dismissal that such concern is misplaced.

  3. With you 100%.

  4. Somehow I suspect we would not see much of a problem here if it was a girl cave. There are plenty of girl-centered book programs (reading groups, writing groups, book displays, etc.), and we never seem to worry that they are being or seeming exclusive.

  5. Sorry, what does tl;dr mean? Thanks.

  6. Molly, I can only speak for myself, but yes, excluding one group is an problem. How does one offer balance of opportunities? Opinions differ, of course — but for me, it’s not OK to ignore the girls (that’s paraphrasing one commentor). It’s not OK for girls to voice a wish to participate in the creation/input of library space but be excluded (from the news article).

    MIM, it means “too long, didn’t read.” Meaning any post that is too long is one that people won’t read.


  1. […] A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, Liz has great look at the Cave, a boy-focused reading area of one school’s library. The topic of boys being […]