The Silly Stereotype That Boys Don’t Read
August 04, 2013
The 2013 Summer Reading Program has come to an end, and it has been a great success. This year, just like every year, I have had numerous parents come up and ask me for suggestions for a good book for their son. Finding a book for a boy can be difficult because there is a stereotype being passed around that boys don’t like to read. As a result of this false generalization, books in the Juvenile and Young Adult sections seem to be geared increasingly towards girls. This can make it hard to find material that will appeal to boys, which makes them read less and leads to the stereotype that boys don’t read.
This is a vicious cycle that leaves many parents wondering how to encourage their sons to enjoy literature. If books aren’t being written for them, how are they supposed to find something to hold their interest? Don’t despair, however. There are great books for boys out there. It is just a matter of finding them. The first step is to find out what the boy is interested in, and then take it from there. So, what does the boy in your life enjoy?
Is he a mystery fan? Classic series like Encyclopedia Brown and The Hardy Boys are still popular. There is also a new series of juvenile books being written by John Grisham that feature the character, Theodore Boone. The son of two lawyers, Theodore Boone is a kid who uses his legal knowledge to probe interesting cases. Hank the Cowdog, by John R. Erikson, is a set of stories that follows the misadventures of a bumbling dog that styles himself as the chief of security at his ranch, resulting in hilarious investigations. Then, there is the great series by Caroline Lawrence that combines mystery and history called The Roman Mysteries. Set in the time of emperors and gladiators, this a great read for anyone who has an interest in learning something about the Ancient Rome.
Perhaps, your child is a sports enthusiast. There are several authors that write great novels about sports. The prolific Matt Christopher has written books that take place in every sport, from basketball to snowboarding. Mike Lupica, a sportswriter by profession, has an especially great knowledge of baseball and has written many works of fiction set in that world like Heat and Travel Team. And if football is more to his liking, former football player Tim Green has several novels exploring that popular sport, including Football Hero and Football Champ.
If he has seen every Star Wars movie, we have many Star Wars books on our shelves for all reading levels. Books are also being written about popular graphic novel characters like Spider-Man and Batman. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking’s book George’s Secret Keys to the Universe and its two follow ups, George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt and George and the Big Bang, combine great adventure with a lot of scientific facts about our universe (including some wonderful photos). And then there is The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, by William Boniface, which tells the story of a normal boy living in a whole town of superheroes.
Or, perhaps wacky adventure is where your child leans. The Captain Underpants books, by Dan Pilkey, are well-known for their fun and flights of fancy. There is also the book by author David Baldacci that stars talking, heroic French fries. Seriously, it’s called Freddie and the French Fries: Fries Alive. And Michael Buckley has a series called N. E. R. D. S. about a group of crime fighting elementary school misfits that work for the government. There is also The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Stewart, which combines fantasy and intrigue as a group of gifted kids are brought together to solve dilemmas using their unique abilities. Oh, and let’s not forget that journalist mouse, Geronimo Stilton, and his exiting adventures writing for the Rodent’s Gazette.
Trying to locate something for teen boys to read, besides Graphic Novels that is, can be a bit more challenging. I would say about two-thirds of the books on the YA shelves have been written for girls. However, for those who enjoy spy-like intrigue, Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series is a sure bet. And for fans of that most famous spy of all, Charles Higson’s Young Bond is a fun look at a teenage 007. D.J. McHale has a fantastic science fiction series called Pendragon that follows a young man as he travels to different parallel worlds. And for those who like dystopian stories with a little horror thrown in, Michael Grant’s Gone series could be described as a teen version of Stephen King’s Under the Dome.
Of course, many are already familiar with the adventures of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Rick Riordan has a sequel to the series called The Heroes of Olympus. He also has a new series called The Kane Chronicles that is set in the same universe and deals with Egyptian Mythology. And we certainly can’t forget that gang at Hogwarts. If the frenzy that surrounded the Harry Potter phenomenon did anything, it showed that if you give a boy a story to love, he will dive into it voraciously. Even if the book has several hundred pages (nobody thought kids of either gender would read books that long)!
The above are just a few examples of the wonderful books that can be found on the shelves at MCPL that might interest the young man in your life. There are many more out there, and it is important to never stop looking. Books for boys are everywhere, just like there are boys everywhere who love reading. The two just have to be brought together. So, it’s time we dispel once and for all this silly stereotype that boys don’t read.