I am reading this book, and a little girl is narrating the story. It was a new experience for me, since I am seeing the world through the eyes of a 12 year old girl. Other than the point of view of the narrator, how does the gender and age of a narrator affect the perception of the story?
In my opinion, it is heavily dependent on the story in question. Most of the times I've read books narrated by a female, young or otherwise, they seem to take on the role of a memoir - not so much a way of taking me to a whole new world, but rather allow me to relate to the person telling the story.
I'm recalling the book "The Girl Who Owned a City". Even though it was perceived through the eyes of a young girl, memory starts to push towards 11 or 12 year old. The book, even though full of action, mostly felt like a rebelling of her experiences. Maybe it's just the relatable manner of a male narrator setting the mood that something will happen to change his outlook, or way of thinking, or who he will become at the end makes me place myself in his shoes.
Typically, male protagonists undergo some type of change whereas most stories with females as narrators just become a stronger version of themselves, unless a traumatic experience, usually sexual from my encounters, happens. Male protagonist's are almost always expected to change.
I may have veered a bit off topic, but to summarize my first point, it generally feels different, and it may be based on my inability to take on the woman's point of view, or something Freudian to do with my childhood...
If the author is good the language used, the syntax, and the way situations are approached should reflect the narrator's background.
The “Voice” is distinctive for every one, and should be directly related to gender, age, culture and experiences.
"Other than the point of view of the narrator, how does the gender and age of a narrator affect the perception of the story?"
If you are talking about how the story is perceived, then yes, those factors could influence the story credibility.
One wouldn't assume the same level of truthfulness or impartiality from 10 years old or 40 years old. This can be relevant when there is a question of credibility, or when some authors misguide the reader for a big finale.