Boys have lagged behind girls in reading achievement for more than 20 years, but the gender gap now exists in nearly every state and has widened as much as 10 percentage points in some, according to an Associated Press story.
Obviously parents and educators are very concerned by this gender gap. So how can we convince little guys to read?
“The angst among parents, teachers and librarians has been met by a steady stream of sports and historical nonfiction, potty humor, bloodthirsty vampires and action-packed graphic novels, fantasy and sleuthing.”
“Butts, farts. Whatever, said Amelia Yunker, a children’s librarian in Farmington Hills, Mich. She hosted a grossology party with slime and an armpit noise demonstration. ‘Just get ‘em reading. Worry about what they’re reading later.’ ”
“Adding online tie-ins or packaged prizes like the steady-selling “39 Clues” series has publishers meeting young readers halfway.”
“Patrick Carman has gone a step further with his wicked creepy “Skeleton Creek” series from Scholastic. The upper-grade books use password-protected websites to alternate book text and quick fixes of shaky, hand-held video. To follow the story, reading and watching online are both required.”
So what books are hot right now for little guys? How about:
“SweetFarts” from author Raymond Bean. (Not his real name) The book follows a 9-year-old boy’s multimillion-dollar science fair invention of tablets that can change foul-smelling gas into the culprit’s scent of choice: summer rose, cotton candy, grape — even pickles, as requested by his little sister. Its sequel “Sweet Farts: Rippin’ it Old-School,” to be released next month.
“Spaceheadz” series (Simon & Schuster) about TV-saturated aliens in September, complete with websites that offer more.
And Dav Pilkey, creator of the perennial favorite “Captain Underpants” is releasing a new book on Aug. 10 in “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk,” about two kung-fu lovin’ caveboys sucked into the future.
So far my 7-year-old son loves to read and is open to just about anything I pick up at the library for him. With that said, I am sure he would LOOOVE any of the three mentioned above, especially the kung-fu lovin’ caveboys sucked into the future. Pilkey knows his target audience.
I would be reluctant to pick up “SweetFarts,” as mentioned last week we are having a problem with fart references and jokes right now. But if my son didn’t read I would definitely give it a try.
What do you think: Should writers be able to do better than fart jokes to pull little boys into books? Should we try more with Westerns or adventure books? More mysteries? More kung-fu?
Why do you think boys are so far behind on reading? (We have so many great educators on our site. I am excited to hear their thoughts!)
(I have a second topic posting today around 2 p.m. on a recent A.D.H.D. survey.)