Book Talks, Boys and Girls

Book talks are one of the most important tools in our literacy toolbox.

Whether its educator to child, parent to parent, or (most effectively) kid to kid, that enthusiastic description about a book and why you should read it is oh-so-effective in getting a child interested in reading. [Image Credit: Picasa Web Album]

When I read author Shannon Hale’s recent blog post Why Boys Don’t Read Girls (Sometimes) I started thinking about how we craft those pitches. She starts with this observation …

[Boys] are looking around at each other, trying to figure out what it means to be a boy—and often their conclusion is to be “not a girl.” Whatever a girl is, they must be the opposite. So a book written by a girl? With a girl on the cover? Not something a boy should be caught reading.

She continues by offering examples from her book signings: boys who read her books on the sly because they’re too embarrassed to acknowledge it publicly.

Ashamed to read a good book? Beyond heartbreaking.

Within the blogosphere you’ll find many re-posts and commentary about Hale’s original piece. I particularly liked Boy Books or Girl Books  by author, librarian and YA reviewer Liz Burns, whose blog is part of the School Library Journal family of blogs. [Image Credit: Nicola on Flickr]

So how do we change the paradigm? Is there a way to acknowledge the perceptions and make the boy book v. girl book irrelevant to the goal of hooking kids on a book that is a just-right story for them?

For me it will mean …

1. More emphasis on the plot and less emphasis on the book as a prop so that the cover doesn’t become a visual deterrent.

2. Sharing more information about the author as a person: how they fit within a family, what experiences they bring to their writing, etc.

3. Beating a drum that a good book is a good book – regardless of the gender of the characters or the author.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think about the concept and/or if you’ve got ideas on ways to engage readers of all types.

 

Terry Doherty is a Stay-at-Home Mom, reading mentor, and a family literacy advocate. She is the founder and Executive Director of The Reading Tub(r), and is the force behind Share a Story – Shape a Future, an annual blog tour for literacy. You’ll find reviews by families for families on The Reading Tub website; and her ideas for reading on Family Bookshelf, her blog.

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