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.
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.