Posted by: Lizzie Ross | September 24, 2010

Do boys read at all?

And if so, what?

A fellow-WordPresser blogged today about efforts to get boys to read more, which is always a challenge for teachers and parents. I like his point about not overgeneralizing — children are individuals, with unpredictable tastes. [My daughter loved the Captain Underpants series and even now (at the start of her third decade) insists that bodily emanations can be hilarious. Yes, a girl who’s a fan of gross-out humor, but I take no responsibility for that.]

But this non-reading issue reminds me of something my mother told me many years ago. A neighbor of ours, a father of 4 sons, admitted to her that he hated reading, and she told him he should take a look at O Pioneers!, because there were some really racy parts in it. He’d get through a chapter or two and then ask her how far he had to go to find them, and she’d respond, “Keep reading. They’re in there.” This process continued until he’d finally finished the book, at which point he accused her of having tricked him. She innocently responded, “It wasn’t in that book? Then it must have been another by Cather. Try My Antonía.”

So perhaps — and I know this is a stretch — perhaps we can entice reluctant readers with banned books. A Clockwork Orange, Slaughterhouse Five, Native Son — each of these could appeal to boys who find no connections to the stories in most books handed to them, with the added fillip of being considered “dangerous” by some groups.

Books will always be banned, but, if we’re clever, we teachers, parents, and writers can use those despicable acts to our advantage. Worth a try, eh?

Reminder: Banned Books Week begins tomorrow!


  1. […] Books Week 27 09 2010 Banned Books Week started yesterday and I’m grateful to Eli Ross’s blog for having reminded me of the fact and for having made this very interesting comment in one of his […]

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