New Review Tuesday: "Boy" Books
As a writer and editor for children and teachers, I'm captivated by the issue of boys and reading.
What boys like to read, why boys aren't reading, what books boys should be reading... it seems like everyone has an opinion when it comes to what Little Billy chooses from the library shelf.
I'm glad we're talking about the issue, as the numbers don't lie. But I do think it can be a bit simplistic to say "oh, this book is good for boys" or "boys don't like sentimental fiction." The guys in my life have some pretty varied tastes--one of my brothers devours adventure stories, for example, while the other prefers non-fiction about sports and business. And my fiancé reads tons of fiction--and not just the "dude genres," a.k.a. science fiction and fantasy.
That said, I've run across a couple of books recently that I think have big-time boy appeal (although I'm sure plenty of girls would enjoy them, too).
The first is The Big Splash, by Jack D. Ferraiolo. Ferraiolo is a first-time author and he's written a fantastically funny noir send-up, set in middle school. I laughed out loud at lines like "Mr. Carling was a hard man to get a bead on," although you don't have to be versed in mafioso lingo in order to enjoy the story of Matt Stevens, seventh grade private eye. Studies have shown that humor is a big draw for many boys, so pull out this one next time you are looking for a good pick for your upper elementary and middle school readers.
Continuing with the criminal theme, definitely check out Spyology, the latest in the Ologies series by Dugald Steer (all of which are excellent choices for reluctant readers, boys and girls alike, since they feature so many points of entry for kids who might be flipping pages). Like the other Ology books, Spyology contains a fictional narrative, written by a highly entertaining persona (this time a 1950s-era detective), along with tons of informational material and non-fiction text boxes. That description doesn't really do justice to Spyology, which offers codes to break, secret compartments to find, and 3D glasses to help solve clues. It's the kind of book I can imagine third- through fifth-graders fighting over who gets to read it next.
What are your thoughts on boys and reading? Any thoughts from the field?