Monday, September 5, 2011

Boys again!!

I hope this link to the New York Times article stays available for some time

Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?By ROBERT LIPSYTE Published: August 19, 2011 

Boys don't like to read

“The important question is why aren’t boys reading the good books being published?” 

As you will see in the article, there are several answers to this question

"Boys gravitate toward nonfiction. Schools favor classics over contemporary fiction to satisfy testing standards and avoid challenges from parents. And teachers don’t always know what’s out there for boys."


"Boys don’t have enough positive male role models for literacy. Because the majority of adults involved in kids’ reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity.”

"Schools favor classics over contemporary fiction to satisfy testing standards and avoid challenges from parents"  Should we be asking  -  What is wrong with contemporary fiction to make teachers nervous about recommendations?

Positive male role models  -: When was the last time you saw a man walking with a novel he intended to read at the first available spare time? If you did, chances are he was a lecturer; or a student forced to read a novel to pass a course. Even the reading of newspapers in the home might soon be a scarce sight as many subscribe to online news instead of an actual paper.

Boys gravitate towards non-fiction.  This suggests that boys are reading, but not fiction.
In my own experience with my grandsons, this is true. Both are good readers but decidedly prefer non-fiction. I have tried to get them to explain why this is so, but they can't give a coherent answer. Just that non-fiction is more interesting. So perhaps what we should be looking at is subject matter.

Boys prefer action  and are less inclined to read books which emphasize feelings - what my elder grandson calls  "chick books". He was curious about Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, because so many of the teenage girls at his school were walking around reading it at the slightest opportunity. He took a look at it and was quite puzzled. What is so interesting? he wondered. I, being female, couldn't explain it so that it made sense to him.

So, another challenge might be that so many of the writers today are female and we are not producing the sort of fiction that will attract male readers. Is it worth the while for our female writers to research the areas which would attract boys and use these in their fiction? Seems we wouldn't lose our female readers since it is generally agreed that whereas boys do not want to read "chick books" girls will read any interesting story - boy or girl oriented.

Another question we have to settle is why is it so important for boys to be reading fiction. if there is enough non-fiction available isn't it enough that they are reading these?

I really would like to see a Caribbean discussion on these ideas.

As to teachers not always knowing what is available for boys - I don't know who is responsible for that.
Here are a few  recent titles (some not so recent) from Jamaica featuring boy protagonists or situations which might attract boys  from the 8-12 age group. And there are more



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