ell I think in my past three articles, I have pretty much covered the Summer Reading Program that is quickly approaching. I certainly have high hopes that children and teens choose to participate. Today, I want to talk just a bit about boys and reading.
In nationwide studies, it has been discovered that boys in the age range of 9 and up start to fall behind girls in reading. Many programs have been established to encourage the continued involvement of boys and their love of reading. One of the leading movements to keep boys reading is “The Guys Read Website,” which can be accessed at www.guysread.com.
A quote from the website that I think pretty much sums up the situation is: “Research shows that boys are having trouble reading, and that boys are getting worse at reading. No one is quite sure why. Some of the reasons are biological. Some of the reasons are sociological. But the good news is that research also shows that boys will read — if they are given reading that interests them.”
Basically it boils down to the following. If you want to instill a love of reading in either boys or girls, allow them to read what interests them. That means comics, graphic novels, magazines and other forms of literature. As I stated in a previous article, once the foundation is laid for a love of reading it will only continue to grow and branch out.
I can’t tell you how many times as a children’s librarian I have seen a child attracted to the graphic novel (basically a fancy word for comics that have been collected in a bigger and better format) section of the library only to be told by his or her parent or guardian to get away from that section and find something “real” to read. I grit my teeth every time it happens. The mantra should be if they are interested in reading something, let them.
That means that libraries need to carry a wide variety of literature to meet the many varied interest of boys. Graphic novels are great (especially those staring superheroes such as Batman, Spiderman and Superman). Magazines such as “Sports Illustrated for Kids,” “National Geographic Kids,” and “Shonen Jump Magazine” are a big pull for guys. Fiction by such authors as Gary Paulsen — “Hatchet,” “Dogsong” and “Woods Runner” — are great realistic fiction stories about survival which boys love. Other popular boy authors are Jon Scieszka, responsible for the highly funny and chock full of boy humor “The Time Warp Trio,” Dan Gutman responsible for the highly popular “My Weird School Series” and one of my favorite books ever, “No More Dead Dogs,” just to name a few.
Lastly I would like to list some blogs that do a really good job of putting out information on books that boys like: Guys Lit Wire at www.guyslitwire.blogspot.com/, Mrs. Yingling Reads at www.msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/, SMS Guys Read at www.smsguysread.wordpress.com/, Boys Rule Boy Read at www.jaja-cas.blogspot.com/ and Boys Rock Boys Read at www.boysrockbr.blogspot.com, among many others.
n Bill Corder is the Youth Services Librarian at the Robeson County Public Library.