Monday, December 15, 2008

Wanted: Male Models

Gail Giles is a young adult author who recently wrote an article in School Library Journal that touched on a topic close to home. As a single mom of a young boy, I really work at trying to get my son involved in reading, sports and anything else that interests him (dinosaurs, cars, action figures). I want him to be educated, active and intellectual. He, of course, will become the young person he's meant to become but for now, his interest in reading and books in general is pretty amazing.

In September, when his Pre-K teachers asked him what he wanted to learn this year his response was, "how to make books." He makes his own books at home, from comic books to newspapers. He's into pretending right now and reading and drawing are also of high interest.

From what Gail says in her article, Wanted: Male Models, I know that won't last so I enlist my dad and other male role models to help instill a love of reading that I hope will last. She writes:
A boy doesn't want to be a woman. He wants to do what a man does. And if he doesn't see a man reading, he won't read.
My dad is staying with us for the next three weeks and he loves to read. Both he and my mom taught me at a young age that reading can open your world and can provide you with experiences and insight that you might not be able to get elsewhere. You can explore different ways of living and get to know people unlike yourself.

I can't help but think that the type of books children are exposed to also makes a big impact on whether or not they'll continue to want to pick up a book later in life. My son, for example, enjoys non-fiction books. He likes reading books that tell him things, show him how to build things or how people invented machines or put things together. He likes numbers and facts, memorizing details like young boys used to quote baseball stats on the back of their collectible baseball cards. (Do kids still do that?)

Personally, I enjoy fiction, escaping into worlds unknown and stories that I know could only be make-believe. I've grown to appreciate non-fiction books over the last few years since I see how excited my son gets when seeing real photographs or images of dinosaurs that he will never be able to see in real life. I pick up books and suggest titles that he doesn't want to read. I let him select books and I'm always amazed at what intrigues him, what captures his attention and what will keep him still - and paying attention - for twenty minutes a day.

Luckily, there are great websites that also keep me up to date with what other boys - and older men - are into reading. That way, I can get familiar with what to introduce to him as he gets older, guiding him to the perfect book that he'll grow into and stories he can share with his classmates, cousins, and Grandpa.

Here are just a few articles and sites that I found to help other parents and educators get their young boys to read:

Boys Rule! Boys Read!
Boys Read
Guys Read

Why dads should read to their children
Why dads should read aloud

And a great resource guide: Gotcha for Guys!: Nonfiction Books to Get Boys Excited About Reading

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Creating books that appeal to young boys is definitely a challenge from my perspective as a children's book illustrator. Since more of the market is comprised of little girls who love to read, more books are produced for them, but publishers and librarians everywhere are clamoring for stories that could appeal to boys. A LOT more consideration goes into marketing a book for boys than for girls because it is much harder, it seems, to win them over and get them "hooked" into reading.

Thanks for posting those links to the other blogs. This is valuable info for writers and illustrators everywhere.