Number one professional failing-- I don't read Booklist or School Library Journal as I should. Maybe just as well. When I was plowing through I stack that I checked out of the library, I came across a letter to the editor that said that since school librarians have girl-centered collections and don't know what boys want, it'sno wonder boys don't like to read.
I've felt bad for days, even though I really do try to get literature that appeals to boys. This spring, I had an entire order that was sports and war books. I do ask all of my students what they are looking for, and try my best to fill it. However, there are not as many boy books published. And yes, as much as I hate to admit it, there is a difference.
There are many more girls who will check out a book a day. There is much more demand for "pink" books. Girls also seem to care more about whether or not something is new. Other than that, girls will read a wide variety of things, including books with boys on the covers.
Not so with boys. They tend to be particular about what they want even if they have trouble verbalizing it. They more often comment "I just don't like to read." In fact, it is often the case that they don't know what to read.
What they don't like: Any book that looks "girly". Tried to check out Tell it to Naomi to a boy who would not read it-- pink and yellow cover. Wrede's Dealing with Dragons had a following of boys this year on the strength of "Well, Johnny read it and liked it." Introspective navel-gazing doesn't go over too well. Problem novels are not wanted until 8th grade.
What they do like:
Sports, especially basketball and football. Could check out a ton of skateboarding books if they weren't "stupid". Rebound, Airball, anything Rich Wallace, Will Weaver, Matt Christopher, Carl Deuker(can NOT wait for Gym Candy), Thomas Dygard, Dan Gutman, Alfred Slote.
Spy novels. Stormbreaker, Spy High, Jimmy Coates and even Higson's Young James Bond series are never on the shelf.
Comedy. There have been a lot of new more mature titles lately. Sure, they love Captain Underpants and The Day My Butt Went Psycho-- in 6th grade. What they want later is books like How to Get Suspended and Influence People, Drawing a Blank, Girls, Drums and Dangerous Pie. Some older titles, such as The Great Brain and Henry Reed are okay, too. And the funniest book in the library: Michael Lawrence's Jiggy McCue and the Killer Underpants. We want the rest of the series available in the US!
Romance. Oddly enough. Soooo few titles. 24 Girls in 7 Days, Son of the Mob, The Girlfriend Project, Notes from the Midnight Driver.
War. WWII and Vietnam, primarily.
Horror. Vampires, werewolves, general mayhem. Cirque du Freak, Werewolf Rising, The Black Tattoo, William Sleator and Neal Shusterman's works.
Fantasy. Die-hard fans will read just about anything. New favorites: Everlost, Fablehaven, Endymion Spring, the John Flanagan Gorlan series, Revenge of the Witch, The Time Warp Trio , Mel Odom's fabulous The Rover and Rick Riordan's superb Percy Jackson series.
History. This has to be recommended. While they won't ask for historical books, ones that combine some of the elements from above will be avidly read. Pankration, Odysseus and the Serpent Maze, Into the Firestorm, The Smugglers, Prince Across the Water. Joshua's Song, Jason's Gold, Ship of Fire and other great Cadnum titles.
Now, you must check out guysread.com. Be patient with the time it takes to load. Dav Pilkey also has a marvelous web site.
Okay. I feel a little better. Of course, what did I read last night? Dessen's That Summer, which struck me as rather classic in its delivery and very smoothly written. It was like an adult read, without anything objectionable. A little navel-gazing, but in an interesting, coming-of-age way. Don't know how I missed it. Also Rallison's Love, Life and the Pursuit of Free Throws, which was a very intriguing book about two girls who play basketball, and how they wind their way through the jungle that is high school. Enjoyed both, but they are for girls. Sigh.