Keeping Boys Reading

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Susan Quinn
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Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Susan Quinn » December 17th, 2009, 2:09 pm

I strongly believe that children will only continue to read if good books, books they will love, are made available to them. It's the job of parents, teachers and librarians everywhere to get those books into their hands, but it's not an easy task, especially as those children get older, and especially if they are boys.

I recently gathered together and blogged about books recommended by readers of Natalie Whipple's blog, to keep those MG and YA boys interested in reading. The list keeps growing and I'd love to hear any recommendations from Forum Friends here!

If you're a parent/grandparent/crazy aunt/oversized kid yourself, what books have the boys (MG or YA) you know (or perhaps used to be) loved?
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)
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Laurie Lamb
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Laurie Lamb » December 17th, 2009, 2:57 pm

My nine year old son just discovered the Hardy Boys and those books are at the top of his Christmas list. He finds all the Pirateology, Wizardology, Dragonology, etc books very interesting. He is working his way through the Harry Potter books and the 39 Clues books. He especially loved The Graveyard Book, Holes, James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte's Web, Hatchet, Brian's Winter, and the Magic Tree House books.

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Susan Quinn » December 17th, 2009, 3:34 pm

Laurie - thanks for the great suggestions! I need to put Holes on my TBR list!
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by ElisabethMoore » December 18th, 2009, 2:00 am

Just at the moment I'd like to know how to stop my boy from reading. But I'm just grumpy because Amazon ratted him out for starting new books long after bedtime by emailing me about my new Kindle purchase. Clearly a library trip is in order for tomorrow before I have to hand my first born, the boy in question as it happens, over to Amazon to pay for his reading habit.

I have no suggestions on specific books since I seem to have to do nothing beyond turn them lose in a bookstore or library, or more frighteningly, with my kindle for my boys to find something to read. I did supply them all with small led book lights to facilitate their reading after bedtime, a fact I only regret when I start getting emails from Amazon. I am blind to book lights while instantly alert to the light of DS screens or sounds of whispering between the kids' bedtime and taking myself off to sleep at night; and, I make sure their bedtime is early enough that they won't always want to go right to sleep. Thus reading is something they can "get away with" at night. My parents did the same with me and my brother, and my 65 year old mother tells stories about reading with a flashlight under the covers at night when she was a child. I think even more than the books is setting up the opportunity to read and limiting the opportunity to play video games or watch television instead. That;s why I let them sneak off with my Kindle but not my iPod Touch -- they'd play games on the Touch; they don't have the patience to surf with the Kindle, the beta web browser is painfully slow, and the Kindle has no games built in or downloadable at present. He can abuse my credit card at Amazon, but all he can do with it is buy books.

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Susan Quinn » December 18th, 2009, 7:42 am

What a great idea! I always chastise my boys not to read in the dark, but maybe I should rethink! We do have reading time before bedtime. For my youngest, that's still our reading time together, but the older two banish me from the room, so they can read silently, and more quickly. Having an early Kindle habit sounds like a great way to keep them reading! I have a feeling mine would quickly bankrupt me as well (especially the computer minded one - with a handheld device plus books, we'd never see him again).

I'll pass along your suggestions, if you don't mind.

Books = forbidden delights.

I love it.
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Rhonda » December 18th, 2009, 5:46 pm

So far keeping my 10 year old son reading is not a problem. In fact, reading has always been the one thing he would do quietly for hours (he has ADHD, but can sit still with no problem to read). I still read to him at night if we have a book we want to read together. If not, we both read our own books at that time. He just strated John Flanagan's Ranger Apprentice series. The Ruins of Gorlan is on your list Susan. He absolutely loves it! I knew he would after I screened it. He was reluctant to pick it up before I read it and told him he would like it because the cover looks kind of dark and scary. Guess you really can't judge a book by its cover : ) My son has his own blog by the way. He is trying to review books as he reads them. http://savagereads.blogspot.com/

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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Nick » December 18th, 2009, 9:36 pm

What springs to mind of what I loved in my younger days includes the Sherlock Holmes stories, the entire works of Tolkien (yes, even the books that just contain copies of notes he scribbled down), Star Wars tie-in novels, Harry Potter, Magic Treehouse, some series whose name eludes me at the moment but it was about a magical kingdom place thing and a group of heroes who go around gathering the various birthstones which are all magical and the like (will look up the title shortly, unless someone can make sense of my ramblings and knows what I'm on about), and well that's it at the moment. I know there were plenty more and I've probably still got a lot of them in my collection, but the titles elude me at the moment.

And just one point I want to raise: I find it interesting you say it is especially difficult to keep boys interested in reading. As a senior in high school (and a rather large high school at that, the current student population is 3,423 students) I have noticed that the vast majority of people have no interest in reading outside of class or very little interest in reading outside of class, but what I have noticed is the majority of people I do see reading for pleasure are, in fact, male. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. Maybe my schedule just has me in parts of the building where there is a larger population of non-readers all day. Or maybe the miniature university, as I like to call it (the building is even structured like a university, honestly, with different departments each having their own building and all of the buildings only connected by breezeways), is just the exception to the rule. In any case it seems to me that the bigger issue is getting young chaps to read, period, but if we want to break it down into demographics further, women are less inclined to read.

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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by trini » December 18th, 2009, 10:22 pm

My sixteen year old son started choosing reading as recreation when he was about twelve. He started with Harry Potter, the Deltora books and then went on to read Robert Muchamore's Cherub Series and then Maximum Ride series by James Patterson...he still reads but I don't know what these days...
"It was a dark and stormy nightmare..."

WIP: Graphic Novel...sex, death and rock and roll.

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Susan Quinn » December 19th, 2009, 12:00 am

Trini - I'll have to check out the Cherub series, I hadn't heard of those before - thanks!

Nick - It is so interesting to me to hear you say that, in your school, mostly boys are reading. That's awesome! And you are right that the vast majority of people simply don't read books anymore, something that horrifies and saddens me. I'm really basing the idea that boys stop reading as they get older on the stats from other people, publishing types, and from looking at the YA bookshelves - they're heavy with girl-type-books. But Natalie got it right when she said that we need to make sure we don't make assumptions, and continue to write books that will appeal to boys/girls/humans of all stripes (which I am definitely doing with my writing).

Since you are a reader, though, and in high school, I have a question for you that I've been thinking about: Do you, or your friends, read on their phones or talk about gettng e-readers? With all the talk of e-readers these days, I wonder if teens will be drawn back to books, if they were available on their phones/digitally.

Thanks for the suggestions - and let me know if you remember those other titles! :)

p.s. you might like this site: Guys Lit Wire
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by casnow » December 19th, 2009, 2:44 pm

What age boys are you trying to find books for? From age 13-18 I really loved Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels. They had enough action to keep me reading and were shallow enough that I was never confused by them (also, they are fairly clean - no sex/language issues). I think for any male over the age of about 14-16 cheesy spy/action novels are the best (Robert Ludlum comes to mind).

Just my two bits (as I guy I feel those two bits are valid).

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Susan Quinn » December 19th, 2009, 3:01 pm

Casnow - I've got two lists going: MG (ages 8-12) and YA (ages 13+). I'll have to check out Dirk Pitt - I hadn't heard of those before.

Your suggestion of Robert Ludlum begs a question I've been thinking about. When I was young, I was (still!) female, but I read a lot of science fiction. There was no such thing as YA then, and I mostly read "adult" books. I think a lot of teens transition quickly into "adult" books, but "adult" back then perhaps meant something different than it does now?

My blog focuses on finding those MG books that will challenge advanced readers. For teens, I think it becomes even trickier. For young teens, some are not ready to read some of the very intense YA books, but some adult books would probably be fine. For older teens (16+), they are more than capable of finding their own books, and may already be into the adult books, if they still read.

Thanks! Your two bits are probably more valid than mine!
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Nick » December 19th, 2009, 6:09 pm

Susan Quinn wrote: Since you are a reader, though, and in high school, I have a question for you that I've been thinking about: Do you, or your friends, read on their phones or talk about gettng e-readers? With all the talk of e-readers these days, I wonder if teens will be drawn back to books, if they were available on their phones/digitally.
I personally have no intentions of ever using, let alone owning, an e-reader or a phone that gives me that capability. But I'm also a very bitter old man who likes to chase Change off his lawn with a wrought iron cane. One of my friends is considering buying the Kindle, and I have another friend who uses the e-reader feature on her iPhone. Beyond that I haven't really talked to any of my friends or classmates about it. I imagine some teens might be sucked in by it. Another friend of mine got some knock-off iPhone (can't recall the name at the moment) yesterday and has been going through all of the features on it and finding apps and things for it as well. I imagine if/when he discovers an e-reading feature it will be put to use, as I've seen him read occasionally. Which makes me think of another point -- it may just be people aren't reading in school. I used to read a lot from elementary school through last year during the school day because I have a genius IQ and deliberately take courses meant for the average student because the AP System is inherently flawed, but this is not the place for that argument. Anyway, this year I'm still in average-level courses, but because senior year consists primarily of semester courses, classes are a lot more loaded with work, because whereas in the past they had from September to June to fan things out, they now have September to late January to cover roughly the same amount of material. Yesterday I made it through 27 pages of War & Peace. Had this been last year, I would've hit somewhere in the 90s or even low 100s. So maybe students are just deciding they're too busy with their work to read (honestly, I would leave my books at home, but I feel very wrong when I'm at school without a (non-text book) book tucked under my arm).

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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by trini » December 19th, 2009, 6:40 pm

Susan Quinn wrote:Trini - I'll have to check out the Cherub series, I hadn't heard of those before - thanks!
Its a great series and I understand he has started a new series prequelling the Cherubs.Here is a link to the Cherubs Campus. My son also reads John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice books over and over. Both my teens really like Matthew Reilly's books too.
"It was a dark and stormy nightmare..."

WIP: Graphic Novel...sex, death and rock and roll.

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by Susan Quinn » December 19th, 2009, 7:56 pm

Nick - with book-lovers (and tuckers!) like you, perhaps the book is not dead after all. Thank Heaven! And with your friends already early adapting . . . this is my secret hope for the future of books. That the e-pocalyse will actually turn out to be a revival. Perhaps all those teens reading at home will come out of hiding with their shiny new tech . . . or perhaps they aren't really reading because they just aren't finding books that interest them. This article talks about a study showing kids' reading dropping off as young as 8, mostly because they don't find material they enjoy. Hence, my blog.

Thanks for all your insights!

And I'm curious about the flaw in the AP system . . .
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)
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Re: Keeping Boys Reading

Post by trini » December 19th, 2009, 8:43 pm

There is plenty of good material out there. Maybe kids are dropping off reading because its not being modelled by the adults in their lives. I remember once being in the car with my son. We were stopped at the lights and he looked into the car stopped next to us. He looked back over at me and said, "That kid is cool. He is reading The Sleepwalker." That is one of the Cherub books. What I loved about that was that the measure of cool in his world is in what people are reading. One of his best friends called today and I asked him what he likes to read. He said straight away, "The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix"

Another good place to go, especially for older teens, is Graphic Novels. Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere , for example, is in Graphic Novel format.
"It was a dark and stormy nightmare..."

WIP: Graphic Novel...sex, death and rock and roll.

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