Fathers putting sons off reading because it's 'girly', author says

Fathers are putting their sons off reading books because they make them believe it’s a ‘girlypastime, author says

  • Joanne Harris says fathers are to blame for boys not reading enough
  • The writer said boys tend to be ‘put under much more pressure’ to play sports
  • She told the Hay Festival that she has met men pleased they’ve not read books by female writers
  • Fathers are guilty of dissuading their sons from reading as they lead them to believe that it is a ‘girly’ activity, best-selling author Joanne Harris has claimed.

    The former teacher, known for her 1999 novel Chocolat, said boys tend to be ‘put under much more pressure’ to play sports, such as rugby.

    She told the Hay Festival: ‘When I was teaching boys particularly, I found that not only boys did not read as much as girls but they were put under much more pressure by parents, largely fathers, to do something else as if reading was girly.’

    The former teacher, known for her 1999 novel Chocolat, said boys tend to be ‘put under much more pressure’ to play sports, such as rugby, rather than reading

    The former teacher, known for her 1999 novel Chocolat, said boys tend to be ‘put under much more pressure’ to play sports, such as rugby, rather than reading

    The implication was that boys ‘ought to be out there playing rugby and doing healthy boy things’ she said.

    ‘It was a fight I had with parents over and over again, parents who say, “My boy reads too much”,’ added the author, 57.

    She blamed the book industry for these attitudes and revealed she has met men who are ‘proud’ at never having read books written by a woman.

    Sy het gese: ‘There is just a feeling within the industry that men write things that are for posterity and therefore are important whereas women write for other women and therefore are slightly subhuman or a minority group somehow.

    ‘If influential people in the business think this, then it’s going to trickle down to the readership.’

    She said it will take time to ‘persuade’ the industry that ‘women are also part of the human condition and their stories are equally important’.

    Ms Harris added: ‘I don’t write specifically for anybody. I write for anybody with a pulse who wants to read the books and I like to be as inclusive as possible.

    ‘But yes I have met a lot of men who not only didn’t read books by women but were quite proud of it

    ‘And if influential people in the book business think this, then of course it’s going to trickle down to the readership.’

    She said it will take time to ‘persuade’ the book industry that ‘women are also part of the human condition and their stories are equally important’.

    Her comments come weeks after she told Times Radio that the English curriculum ‘seems designed to put people off reading as much as possible’.

    Sy het gese: ‘The idea of pleasure in reading seems to have been completely jettisoned for the necessity to know exactly what grammatical structures are called.’

    Mrs Harris’ novel Chocolat was adapted into a film in 2000, starring Dame Judi Dench and Johnny Depp.