Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm surprised by how many requests I get from customers for books "for a boy" or "for a girl." It's one thing if the mention of gender is just incidental, as it often is: "I need a book for a six-year-old boy who's just starting to read on his own." But often, the gender seems to be a huge part of how the customer decides what the child needs or should want. One customer held up a coloring book featuring characters from what I'd say is a gender-neutral movie, told me that the young recipient had seen the movie and that the book fit all her other criteria (which were really well thought-out, involving the child's reading level and dexterity), but concluded, "I want something girlier."
In some cases, I get it. If the child is someone the customer only sees once a year, it's understandable to grasp at whatever information is available. Ten-year-old. Girl. If the customer knows the child well, on the other hand, "boy" might be shorthand for "kid who's really into cars and trucks and things that go." (No points for guessing the first book I'd recommend.)
But if you have to ask whether a book is "for boys" or "for girls," as many customers do, isn't it possible it's for both? I know it's a rare boy in our overconditioned world who will go for Felicity the Dazzling, Dancing Fairy Princess Saves LavenderLand, but I bet many a boy has enjoyed When You Reach Me, even if the main character's name is Miranda. And I've seen plenty of girls get excited about adventure, sci-fi, and plain-old dark stories. (Excited about Mockingjay, anyone?... Actually, The Hunger Games and gender may have to be a whole 'nother post.)
Gift-giving is hard. I just hope that when these kids choose their own books, no one tells them, "those books aren't for you."