Along with childhood and girlhood, boyhood is central to the definition of children’s literature. John Newbery’s A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744), frequently credited with igniting the English children’s literature industry along with works by Thomas Boreman and Mary Cooper, addressed boys and girls separately as distinct audiences: the book was available for purchase with a toy described as a ball for boys and pincushion for girls. Historian Philippe Ariès identifies boys as “the first specialized children” (1962, 58). For much of the modern era in the West, boys were not differentiated from girls by their clothing until age seven or so, when a boy celebrated his growth out of childhood by exchanging gender-neutral gowns and smocks for breeches or pants. Girls lacked a similar ritual to mark the transition from early childhood to girlhood (Mintz 2004). However, anthropologists of childhood note that specific expectations of boys differ by time and place. In some cultures, such as the Igbo in Nigeria and the Inuit of North America, girls were traditionally required to give up play earlier than boys, but David Lancy observes that in a number of cultures, “gender differences” among young children “are of relatively little importance” until maturity, often...

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