Thursday, March 09, 2006

Boys Reading Books with Girls on the Cover

This was too good to leave for tomorrow.
Slate (did you figure out by now I really like Slate?) has an article about boys liking girl books.

The author, Emily Bazelon, is concerned for her boys. Two things concern her: the first is "the recent fretting that boys are laggard readers" and the second is that "boys don't like to read about girls" and are thus being pushed by teachers and librarians into reading books about boys.

It's quite a funny read. Bazelon explores why boys eventually stop reading and thinks it has to do with librarians--being mostly women--directing boys to stories rather than also directing them to nonfiction, humor and books with diagrams.

One of the important thing, she notes, is for boys to see their father reading.

I remember Benjamin had something about this not too long ago as well with J.K. Rowling using initials to hide the fact that she's a woman author.

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Rose said...

This is great. We need to encourage more men to read so that they can serve as role models to their mail child. Anything we need to do to get our boys and young men to read is worth our efforts.

Jack Slyde said...

I know a lot of men (at least the ones who do read) who won't read books by women. Strange but true.

Cavan said...

Around grade three or four, one of my fave book series was about a character called Ms. Teeny Wonderful. She was a tomboy who jumped barrels with her bike. I totally had a crush on her.

Interestingly, I remember taking flak from my friends for reading "girl books" at the time. They were reading RL Stine. Frankly, I'm confident my books will stand the test of time better than Goosebumps.

Things are still a little like that - I really enjoy watching shows like What Not To Wear, and I've seen every single episode of Sex and the City.

Defy gender stereotypes. Expand your mind.

Deborah said...

Bazelon has a point about librarians, but I'd like to add that it's the school systems that are trying to cram literacy down kids' throats. I have to sit with my youngest to get him to read a novel. Yet, he has no qualms about picking up a science book and reading it from cover-to-cover on his own. I feel that the school curriculum is too rigid. As long as the child is reading and learning, that's all that matters.

kalbzayn said...

My parents are not recreational readers so they played no part in filtering what I read. I almost always ignored mandatory book assignments in school and instead chose to read what I wanted when I wanted. Reading To Kill A Mockingbird and other literary classics is great, but if we want to get kids engaged in reading, they need to have greater freedom in what they are forced to read. When I graduated high school in 1993, I can't remember ever being assigned a book that was written while I was alive. I think one of the reasons Harry Potter and RL Stine, etc do such a good job appealing to kids is because they talk about a modern world that they can relate to. Plus, the books are on the shelf at the bookstore and new ones added to the series frequently. If we encourage kids to read some Stephen King, Elmore Leonard and other more modern authors in high school, then maybe it would be easier to slip the in Oedipus Rex once their minds are more excited about writing.

I have three year old twins. One boy, one girl. I'm very interested in tracking things like reading habits as they go through school. Right now, they both love to "read" and be read to.

Melly said...

Rose, no argument here! :)

Seems I know the same guys, Jack. But I do find that most of the guys that read male authored books are the same guys who only read Grisham, Ludlum and the likes and not literary or genre books. Do you find the same?

Cavan, I'm sure you're right. I wonder if not everybody wants to expand their minds. I guess even more deeply, not everybody reads for the same reason and perhaps seek nothing more out of a book than what Dan Brown can provide. Dunno.

Deborah, this is exactly what the article says. Classic case :)
Your boy is great. I guess, you'll have to walk a fine line so as not to take his interest away from science books.

Kalbzayn, I never minded school assigned reading but perhaps it's because both my parents are avid readers and have more book shelves than most people I know. So I was happy to expand my horizon. But I can understand how for kids where school is the only incentive to read, would need more "fun" reading.
Wow. It would be amazing to see how your twins differ, if at all, and if it has to do with gender.

kalbzayn said...

So far they are pretty equal in how well they appreciate stories. Our daughter can talk about them afterward much better, but our son is already learning to read letters and numbers and vocally spelling his name and his sister's nickname. When he sees his name written somewhere he spells it and says it afterward. Pretty cool.

They also seem to like different kinds of books. Our daughter is more into the character books, like Cliford, Thomas, Arthur that have fairly normal type of plots. Our son likes the picture books and pointing at them and saying words. But, two of his favorite two books though are characters I had never heard of and he walks around the house quoting those two books at least once a day. He also likes Dr. Seuss and books that almost need to be read with funny voices.

Very interesting to keep track of.

Melly said...

Oh, wow Kablzayn. You must be very proud, they sound adorable. I can just imagine your daughter yacking about a book or your son walking around and quoting. That is so cute! :)
And I love reading with funny voices. I also make up tunes and sing sometimes. Always a favourite :)

Benjamin Solah said...

Yer, men tend to avoid women authors because they think they books will be too sappy. The majority of the books I got for christmas were women authors for this reason. You can't really distinguish gender, but it's a psychological thing before attempting to read a woman author.

I've never seen my dad read a book, but that's partly because of his eye sight. Though, he claims to have read a Stephen King book in one sitting during a boring shift at work when he was younger. Also, my mum doesn't read that much either.

Melly said...

You're the best Benjamin :)
Let us know what you reccommend when you're done.

Benjamin Solah said...

I've read two of them, The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters and Faithless by Karin Slaughter. Faithless was ok, but it focused too much on the sub-plot, but I really loved The Devil's Feather. The characters in it are extremely real and engaging.

Melly said...

Boy, you're a fast reader. I'll try to remember next trip to the bookstore.