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Publisher Ladybird drops gender-specific children's book titles

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Children's book publisher Ladybird have confirmed they will no longer brand books ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’, a milestone push in the drive to end gender-biased marketing in children's book.

The company, which has been printing children's books since 1915, said in a statement it doesn't want "to be seen to be limiting children in any way".

Ladybird's current offering of gendered titles include Favourite Fairy Tales for Girls - including stories such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty - and Favourite Stories for Boys - featuring Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Pigs.

"Following discussions, should any of the titles you mention be reprinted for the trade we will be removing this labelling," the publisher's message continued.

"Out of literally hundreds of titles currently in print, we actually only have the six titles you cite with this kind of titling, so I do feel we offer a vast range for children and their parents".

Ladybird fairy tales for girls

Ladybird Books added that its parent company, the Penguin Random House children’s division, would also be implementing the changes. "Our commitment to avoiding gendered titles in the trade crosses all our imprints," they said.

So far seven publishers have backed the Let Books Be Books campaign - an offshoot of the Let Toys Be Toys drive - which is asking publishers to take the "Boys" and "Girls" labels off books and allow children to choose freely what kinds of stories and activity books interest them.

The list of supporters who have said they will not be releasing any new girl/boy labelled titles include Parragon, Chad Valley, Dorling Kindersley, Miles Kelly, and Paperchase.

Earlier this year, the campaign also won the support of Britain's largest specialist bookseller Waterstones, vowing that its stores will try to avoid separating out boys' and girls' fiction.

Ladybird fairy tales for boys

"These books exist, but we think there are better ways of choosing for children than basing it on whether they are a boy or a girl," a Waterstones spokesperson said at the time.

The campaign has also attracted high profile backing from authors including former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine, current Laureate Malorie Blackman, poet Laureate Carol-Ann Duffy and  author of the His Dark Materials series, Philip Pullman.

However, while the Let Books Be Books campaign has seen significant changes in the industry, publishers including Buster Books, Igloo Books and Autumn publishing continue to label books by gender.

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