All books are for everyone – keeping our book club gender neutral

Published on Friday, May 3, 2019

Girl and boy sat on garden chairs reading

One of the things that makes our kids book club unique is that, within the two different age categories, everyone gets the same book. It’s a book club, after all, and our aim is to develop an inclusive community of book-loving kids and parents who enjoy sharing their reading experience with others.

It’s important to us that all the books we choose can be enjoyed equally by boys and girls. We don’t want your child to miss out on a fantastic, engaging story just because a book is labelled or presented in such a way that they think it’s not for them. Let Toys Be Toys is a campaign that asks the toy and publishing industries to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for boys and others only for girls. They articulate the issue very well and their website is well worth a look.

Essentially, we aim to avoid books that are packaged and marketed in a way that is directed specifically either at boys or at girls. We also aim for a balance of male and female lead characters – in the same way that we aim for thematic range across our book selections. We don’t differentiate between books for boys and books for girls in the same way that we don’t ask you about your child’s particular interests and send you books with only those interests in mind. Just because your child loves Harry Potter and has developed a passion for fantasy books, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t also enjoy reading a book set in the Masai Mara, or an inner-city farm, or an Australian fruit orchard.

Anything that gets your child enthusiastic about reading is a good thing, in our opinion – but we also want our children to read more widely. Parents often tell us that they are keen to move their children away from particular book series that are written and marketed specifically for boys or for girls. So how can you encourage your child to embrace a more balanced reading diet?

Here are five series of short chapter books that are perfect for both boys and girls and make great alternatives to Beast Quest or Rainbow Magic:

1. The Jolley-Rogers by Jonny Duddle

Land-lubber Matilda teams up with Jim Lad and his family of pirates for swashbuckling adventures on the high seas.

2. Mr Gum by Andy Stanton

This bestselling series of hilarious chapter books features a full cast of characters including an angry fairy, Jake the dog and a little girl called Polly.

3. Rabbit and Bear by Julian Gough and Jim Field

These charming and gorgeously illustrated books follow best friends Rabbit and Bear – perfect for those transitioning from pictures books to chapter books.

4. Baby Aliens by Pamela Butchart

Another hilarious series of chapter books for young readers, set in a primary school where some extraordinary things happen to Izzy and her friends.

5. Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam by Tracey Corderoy

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are two hapless robber dogs who decide on career change after one bungled burglary too many – proving that crime doesn’t pay, but cupcakes certainly do!


Are you keen to supercharge your child’s love of reading but feel like you could be doing more to support them? We know that discovering, purchasing and recommending books that maintain your child’s enthusiasm for reading, helping them to reach their full potential, is time consuming. Why not let us take that off your to-do list? With a Parrot Street Book Club subscription your child receives a carefully chosen new children’s book and accompanying activity pack through the post each month. They receive a stream of varied and exciting books, whilst the book club-style questions and activities are perfect for sharing. Find out more here.