- My Eight-year-old Can’t Find Any Books He Likes from Imagination Soup
- Best Books For Boys from Surviving Sixth Grade
- Best Books For Boys from Down Under Teacher, who points out (as I would) lots of boys seem more impressed with ‘anything non-fiction’.
- Books For Boys dot com
- Books For Boys Grades 6-8 from Scholastic — this list includes a story with a female protagonist
- Here’s A Whole Bunch More from About.com
Are gender segregated book lists actually helpful? I’ve been feeling conflicted about this issue for a long time. Friends with reading sons tell me that their own boys don’t seem to exhibit a preference for books about boys — plant a book in front of them and they’ll read it. But when these lists are compiled we’re generally not concerned about great readers who will read anything good; we’re concerned about encouraging reluctant kids to read.
I’ve met mothers of girls who were happy to buy them trashy magazines because ‘at least she’s reading something’. Gotta say, I’m not a fan of that. I’m inclined to think that not reading is better than soaking your daughter in harmful messages about diets, one-dimensional boys and body-image.
Likewise, book lists for girls are overwhelmingly stories about females. This is the nature of such lists. The difference, however, is that book lists for girls are making an effort to get a reading diet back to a ratio approximating 50/50, because unless girls have girl books chosen for them carefully, they will end up reading overwhelmingly about boys (and ‘tomboys’).
I’ll admit that for lots of kids, the early-to-middle school years are especially problematic because kids are strongly identifying with their own gender between the ages of about 4-8. But does this mean teachers and parents should be complicit in this gender divide, or coaxing kids gently out of it?
HERE’S WHY BOYS SHOULD ALSO BE HEARING STORIES ABOUT GIRLS, EVEN THE RELUCTANT READERS
…this phrase is almost reflexively brought up when discussing rape, other forms of gendered violence, abortion–really, anything that affects primarily women. But try to picture a woman being call upon to do the inverse: “Imagine if it were your husband/son/father.” It rarely happens.
While the article above is about the controversial empathy gap between genders, I am reminded of kidlit book lists because even in reading tastes, girls are expected to be interested in the male experience, whereas so often, boys are not expected to be interested in the female experience. This has Real World Implications.
If reluctant reading boys refuse to read fiction about girls, they might read non-fiction books about female scientists. They might watch TV shows and movies with female leads, or they might be happy to read a good book about a girl if you plant it in his own bedroom where his mates can’t see him reading it. You never know.
More Resources On Empathy, from Larry Ferlazzo