WHAT DO GUYS ACTUALLY WANT TO READ?
Why don't guys want to read as much as girls? There has been SO MUCH discussion on the topic, and I'm not sure if we are really making any progress as a whole. Guys are pretty active, and I know the really active girls at my school aren't that interested in reading, either. They want to be out and about and stimulated in a kind of visceral and physical sense, I guess. It's kind of hard to get that from a book, unless it's an action packed thriller with lots of plot twists and fast paced movement and all the other tactics that action/adventure novels use to get your heart racing. And so that's pretty much the first thing that I've noticed about boy readers. It's gotta be fast, and interesting, and adventurous, and thrilling. They have to be able to FEEL the book, not in an emotional way but in a way that gets their heart racing a little bit, gives them a bit of a sense of moving around, running... something PHYSICAL even when they're sitting still.
I think the other big thing for boys is VISUALS. There is NO DOUBT that the Tin Tin and Asterix graphic novels are BY FAR AND AWAY LIKE I AM TALKING A HUGE MARGIN HERE the most borrowed items in our library. And they ARE BORROWED BY BOYS. Pretty much 99% of the time. Boys like comics! They like graphic novels! They like pictures with their words! THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. The fact that I even have to SAY there is nothing wrong with that, is wrong, because I shouldn't even have to say it. So if I could stock my library shelves with HEAPS of graphic novels, I would, because I know the boys would read them.... BUT.... my school doesn't agree with graphic novels. I gotta respect that, even though it frustrates me a bit because I know so many quality graphic novels that the kids would LOVE to read.
The other suggestion I have seen kicking around the interwebs is to have a strong male role model who reads. Hmmmm, I guess that could work to some degree, but when the Library is staffed primarily by chicks it makes it hard. Maybe I could ask the cool young male English teacher at my school to recommend some stuff? I could give it a go and see what happens....
But in the end does it really matter WHAT boys read, when the whole point of the discussion is that we are struggling to just GET them to read ANYTHING AT ALL? Well yeah, of course the content matters a bit (refer to "American Psycho" for an inappropriate choice), but we can't expect them to develop a life-long love of reading if we constantly try to stuff "wholesome" classics down their throats. You know what will happen if we keep that up? Yep, they'll just stop coming. Hell, even I find a few of the wholesome classics dead boring (oh and insert NUMEROUS BOOKER PRIZE WINNERS here). You need to let the kids CHOOSE what they want to read (within reason). It's their free time, and you don't want to instill in them the feeling that reading is just more tedious homework. It's supposed to be ENJOYABLE - so give them the freedom to ENJOY IT!
With that in mind, here is a link from ilovelibraries.org with heaps of quality graphic novels - now get buying!!
Best Graphic Novels for Children (ilovelibraries.org)