The text highlights various insights gathered from a recent conference focused on encouraging boys to read. It is noted that boys have a preference for reading books about trucks, troublemakers, sports, animals, and war, showing a leaning toward nonfiction. Additionally, the importance of humor and action in stories for boys is emphasized. However, some authors and an illustrator point out that boys are also drawn to books with a strong emotional quality.
In terms of popular books among boys, "Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key" by Jack Gantos, "Robot Zot" by Jon Scieszka and David Shannon, and "Under a War-Torn Sky" by Laura Malone Elliott are mentioned. On the other hand, girls have consistently demonstrated better reading skills than boys on standardized tests. Examples of books appealing to girls include "Freshwater Road" by Denise Nicholas, "Reaching for Sun" by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, and "Remember: The Journey to School Integration" by Toni Morrison.
An important aspect emphasized by illustrator Jerry Pinkney is the need for emotional appeal in illustrations. Pinkney highlights the significance of not only capturing action but also the surrounding emotions. In one of his illustrations from the picture book "Black Cowboy, Wild Horses," he showcases the intimacy between a cowboy and his horse through the act of feeding it an apple.
Author Jack Gantos, known for writing about mischievous boys, explains that boys appreciate both the emotional and physical aspects of a story. He believes that half of the content in his books focuses on external actions, while the other half delves into the internal experiences of the characters. Gantos mentions that his books convey the message of unconditional love for the characters, even when they make mistakes, which resonates with children.
Despite the majority of authors who attract young male readers being men, Laura Malone Elliott stands out as a female author who has successfully reached a male audience with her book "Under a War-Torn Sky." Inspired by her father’s experiences in World War II, the fictionalized account captures the vulnerability and fear boys face in wartime. To ensure boys and their parents would not be deterred by her gender, Elliott followed her editor’s suggestion to use only her initials, L.M., on the book cover.
Overall, the text sheds light on the preferences of boys when it comes to reading, the importance of emotional appeal in storytelling and illustrations, gender differences in reading skills, and the successful engagement of boys through various books.
Jon Scieszka, an author of children’s books, recently shared his suggestions for getting boys more engaged in reading. During his talk, he shared anecdotes and jokes about his own children, highlighting the importance of providing books that boys enjoy. Scieszka emphasized the need for funny books to be included in reading assignments, questioning when the last time was that a humorous book was recommended. He encouraged teachers to assess their classroom libraries and ensure they have a selection of books that appeal to boys, such as nonfiction, comics, graphic novels, and texts that are of interest to them.
Scieszka also advised female teachers to seek out male role models who can inspire boys to read. He half-jokingly noted that without male role models, boys may worry that they will be perceived as feminine if they show too much interest in reading. As the founder of the Guys Read Web site, Scieszka provides a list of recommended books that appeal to boys. He suggested that teachers take a low-key approach when recommending books to boys, mentioning that another male reader enjoyed the book. Additionally, Scieszka emphasized the importance of offering a manageable selection of books rather than overwhelming boys with too many choices.
Furthermore, Scieszka highlighted the role of technology in engaging boys in reading. He suggested that teachers embrace technology in the classroom, as boys are naturally drawn to it, and it can be another avenue to promote reading.
Matthew Brodie, a librarian, attended the conference with a specific interest in reaching out to boys. He expressed his admiration for authors of children’s books and wished he had male teachers like Scieszka who were energetic and funny. Brodie emphasized the importance of female teachers and librarians showing an interest in boys’ preferences, just as he makes an effort to notice girls’ interests, such as by adding books about fairies to his library.
Janet Pankau, a mother of four boys and a third-grade teacher, attended the conference to discover books that would captivate her male students. She expressed her frustration with the lack of options for boys compared to girls. Pankau believed that finding books that boys enjoy is comparable to shopping for clothes that boys will wear, as there are far more options available for girls. In her classroom, Pankau encourages independent reading for thirty minutes each day. However, if boys cannot find a book that interests them, they often pretend to read instead.