All of the boys I’ve read to, whether through babysitting or teaching, really enjoyed being read to. We’ve read Clifford and Curious George and Amelia Bedelia. We’ve read books about animals, dinosaurs, vehicles, and fairy tales. And you know what? My daughter hates the kissing scenes more than the boys I’ve read to do—and she demands adventures more than they do, as well! (Though she’d never turn down a puppy story.)
The point is that you can’t put these ridiculous limitations on what boys will enjoy and what girls will enjoy. All it will do is set them up to fulfill your prophecies when they probably wouldn’t have without your “boys only like adventure” mindset. It’s very much like the whole “girls don’t like/can’t do math” myth; I have found that if you make math accessible to girls and refuse to apply this claim, they can, and do enjoy it. In fact, the most mathematically minded people I’ve ever known are all female.
So why don’t we have more adventures about girls, then? Out of all of the adventure stories I’ve read over the past few years, almost all were male-centered, from Leven Thumps to Septimus Heap, Harry Potter to Percy Jackson. And half of these were written by females, too! I’m not saying that women should not write about men—just that it would be nice to have more stories that our daughters can relate to, whether they are written by men or women.
Many people claim that, like movies, these books have a strong female character who is pretty amazing. Sure, this is true; but so is the fact that she’s only one token character, she rarely has conversations with other women (and if she does, it’s about a boy), and she’s usually placed as a love interest for the main character himself. This makes our daughters aware of the fact that it’s great to be strong—as long as you fuss over getting the guy and get the guy, eventually.
The same goes for villains as well. We almost never get any female villains, though they can be just as deadly and sinister as male villains. Even Harry Potter’s Death Eaters only have a couple of women among them (though there was the horribleness that was Dolores Umbridge in one book, of course!). And when there are female villains—such as the ones in Percy Jackson, and the dull mortal ones in Leven Thumps—they are the easiest to beat.
I’d like to make this plea to you here and now, authors of the world—try your hand at a female-driven adventure story! Write something for my daughter to want to swashbuckle to. I really don’t mind that she calls herself Hiccup (from How to Train Your Dragon) all of the time, but it would be super cool for her to realize that girls are just as capable and adventurous as the boy heroes she loves.