Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Where are all the boys?

I’ve noticed a trend over the years that my strongest readers are boys, hands down. Let me explain. Every year I have 2 or 3 grade 9 boys (keep in mind that I work in a 7-9 middle school) who are devouring Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Raymond E. Feist’s work or Brent Weeks’ The Night Angel trilogy. Really, I keep these three authors’ books on the shelves for those boys specifically because my 7s and 8s certainly couldn’t handle them. But they haven’t been read in over a year now and I’m searching the school population to try and figure out whom I can suggest them to but not a single student comes to mind, male or female.

Are boys in the library? Of course they are. This morning when I arrived an hour before the bell, I had 3 boys patiently waiting for me to unlock the doors. The boys waltzed in, turned on the lights, held the gate for me and sat down. Did they pull out books or magazines to read? No, they pulled out their gaming devices. When the warning bell went at 8:50 the library was packed and loud and 95% male. I don’t mind that they are talking and gaming but what worries me is that they are not reading at all.

Yet I struggle myself when a boy comes in and asks me for a book to read. It usually goes like this:

Male student: Can you recommend a good book?
Me: I try to only buy good books. What kind of book are you looking for?
Male student: A good book that is like action and adventure but not about sports, I don’t like sports books. And no romance.

And that’s when I hit a brick wall. Sure, I can suggest John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series or D.J. MacHale’s Pendragon series but something new, something current? Now, that’s a struggle. I love the move towards the dystopian genre and I love finally reading books with female protagonists but that comes at a cost. A female protagonist usually means that a strong romance theme is involved, one that turns away the boys.

What’s a boy to do?


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