More on ya books for boys

Here's a column by Colleen Mondor reviewing a handful of ya books for boys. Specifically, she was looking for books in which growing from boy to man was a central theme, and she laments the fact that such books are thin on the ground compared to the dazzling displays of similar books for girls.

Now, I am not a boy, and never was, so it may be a tad pointless to say that none of these books appeal to me(with the exception of Time Bomb, by Nigel Hinton, because Danger: UXB was such a great PBS program). Why do so many books about boys have to be about team sports??? Why aren't there more books for boys along the lines of An Abundance of Katherines, featuring the eccentric intelligensia, with only a faint whiff of sport? Are there in fact any teen aged boys who like An Abundance of Katherines, or do they feel cheated?

I am very interested in what teen aged boys want to read, because I buy books for my library. A lot of them are books that the libarians ask me to buy, but I like to shop a bit on my own. It is easy to buy books I want to read myself, but I don't know what special books to get that might interest the one teenaged boy I've seen in our y.a. section. Our librarian has put a bulletin board soliciting suggestions, but none have come. I went to google, and found this article on the subject--a few years old, but interesting none the less, and I've decided that more graphic novels are the way to go.

When my boys are older, unless, god forbid, they have fallen into the pit of reluctant young male readers, I will give them Rosemary Sutcliffe to read--great historical fiction, from Bronze Age England to 18th-century Scotland, featuring a fine array of boys growing into men. There is also violence (wolves, Picts, Romans, Vikings, Saxons, etc, although not all in the same book), young men dealing with physical handicaps, and the development of emotional maturity.

Nobody does heroic, lovable,and believable historic boys growing up better than this author. I will also give them Taran Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander, another great coming of age story that also introduces very nicely the techniques of blacksmithing, weaving, and pottery. And there is my favorite book of 2006, The King of Attolia, which is the third of a series about a teen aged boy growing up, although I am not quite sure what lessons might be drawn from it...

When our first son was born, we were still building the book cases for his room. This were mainly to give me a place to put my own children's books, many of which feature girls. I hope that reading books with a female point of view will help him grow up to be the non-gender-stereotypical male type person (it's too hard to think of my baby as a man) I want him to be. I did draw the line, however, with A Little Princess, which is still in my room. There are limits.

1 comment:

  1. Charlotte:

    Actually, only one of the books in my column, The Knights of Hill Country was about teen sports (football) and I purposely included it because it provides a complete different angle on team sports from any I have read before.

    Edenville Owls was less about basketball then about the five boys (and one girl) figuring out the right thing to do to help their teacher. X-Indian Chronicles has multiple stories about growing up - from boys learning about their past, running from their past and/or facing no future. Garage Band was about a bunch of guys who live (and make some bad decisions) in pursuit of their music and Tough Boy is full of poetry that will appeal to boys growing up in a difficult urban environment.

    The column was really about pulling together several books that would not necessarily appeal to the same boy, but should give readers a taste of some books that each might appeal to a specific boy. I didn't find a good SF book that fit the theme I was looking for ("boys to men") so that's why there's no SF, for example.

    I do agree with you that there is a shortage of diverse books for boys, period - it's as if publishers see what is obvious (sports stories for example) and just keep getting authors to churn them out. Knights is an exceptional story though - and shouldn't be skipped because it is about football players.

    I'd love to see more mysteries with boys and more SF. Those are the kinds of books my brother loved reading when we were young, and I think are largely absent today. (I am working on a mystery column for July and will have some with male protagonists that you should check out.)

    Thanks for reading my column!

    Colleen aka Chasing Ray


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