Posted on October 3, 2010 by Suzan Woodard in Reading Lists.
In our rush to create reading material that appeals to boys, have we sacrificed civility? Have we declared that boys’ reading scores must come up at any cost? Do we really need to appeal to the baser instincts in order to promote literacy?
There are plenty of topics that appeal to boys: humor, mysteries, cars, adventure, reptiles, sports and so on. A multitude of well-written biographies provide fascinating stories of men of valor, integrity, imagination and vision. Would it not benefit our boys more to read about these honorable men than to dabble in the “gross-out” genre?
Do we really want to raise a generation of literate barbarians? Don’t our boys deserve more? Shouldn’t we adults set the bar a little higher than relying on potty humor to train our boys?
I have to wonder if authors and publishers of this ilk have the best interest of the next generation in mind. I suspect it’s the sales figures that are driving this trend, hiding behind the pro-literacy banner and justification that goes something like this: “Oh, it’s just a little harmless fun…anything to get them to read.”
YouTube and the nightly news are flooded with stories and videos of crass individuals who display rudeness like a badge of honor. Don’t even get me started on the Maury Povich/Howard Stern-genre of talk shows! Do we really want to shove our boys in this direction? Do we really want to be dealing with this mindset in the classroom? Do we want our girls marrying these guys?
OK, OK! If you hadn’t guessed, I feel strongly about this topic. I guess my grandmother’s words went pretty deep: “Manners make the man.”
(Note: You might be interested in reading Thomas Spence’s well-written piece, “How to Raise Boys Who Read,” in The Wall Street Journal. He is the president of Spence Publishing Company, which has published a book for adults by Brad Miner. It’s titled “The Compleat Gentleman” – a “model for 21st century masculinity.”)
While I value freedom of speech and haven’t burned any books lately, I encourage parents and teachers to think long-term when guiding a boy’s book choices. Fortunately, we have vast resources in this country. Consider some of what Big Universe has to offer online for the K-8 set. Just click the links below.
Beyond “Snips, Snails & Puppy Dog Tails
- Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School, Ms. Johnson?
- Jackie Robinson: A Life of Determination
- Riding with Paul Revere
- Super Cars
- John F Kennedy: A Life of Citizenship
- Our Fort
- Winston Churchill
- Investigating the Human Body
- Martin Luther King Jr A Life of Fairness
- Dark and Dangerous
- Cowboy Slim
- John Elway and the Denver Broncos
- Thomas Jefferson: A Life of Patriotism
- United States Air Force