Boys read. As librarians, we know that’s a fact. Research does indicate, however, that boys typically don’t read as much or as well as girls their same age, and as a result they can fall behind. Some great male writers, beloved by all readers, gave their perspectives on why getting more boys reading is necessary and how we might accomplish that goal:
- Jon Scieszka: Start by asking boys what they want to read. Listen to what they say, and note what are your heavily circulating titles. These should be your go-to titles, regardless of what the library literature has to say.
- Michael Grant: Escapism has value in encouraging reading. Is the book one the reader is willing to spend time with?
- Andrew Smith: There are a few dirty words when it comes to encouraging reading: “appropriate,” which casts judgment; and “for,” which excludes potential readers (e.g., books FOR boys, books FOR teens).
- Daniel Handler: Speaking of dirty words, teen boys in particular like their books to have violent and dirty bits. These parts reflect their own thoughts and conversations with friends. To the young male reader, these parts are just one contributing factor to the overall enjoyment of the book, but censorship-happy adults view even short instances of language and sex as rendering the whole book objectionable.
Some boys don’t read, but there are plenty of clandestine male readers, too. The prevalence of readers who hide their enjoyment of reading suggests there’s something fundamentally wrong with our reading culture–why do boys want to keep their reading secret? The answer to this question could shed light on the whole issue of boys and reading.
How do you engage young male readers at your library?
I am the Children’s Librarian at the Corporate Parkway Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library District in Missouri. I am active in ALSC, and I blog as the Show Me Librarian at http://showmelibrarian.blogspot.com/.