I have been meaning to write this post for a while, it is something that has bothered me for some time. I have three kids, all of them readers. My oldest is my only girl and we have always enjoyed reading books together and picking books out to read at the library. With my sons it has been a totally different experience. My thirteen year old loves to read but he is very picky about what he reads. He of course loves Harry Potter and has read the series over and over and over again. I finally told him enough and dragged him to the library to pick out some new books. We could not find anything that would interest him, not one. When we went to the teen fiction section it seemed like 75% of the books were aimed toward teenage girls and vampires. I have nothing against the vampire craze, I have read a few and enjoyed them, but that is not what my 13 year old wants to read. He loves historical fiction and books about battles and wars and we could not find anything for him to read. I talked to the librarian and she informed me that there are not a lot of books for teenage boys being published because "boys do not read".
I have two boys that do read and it is very frustrating that I cannot find books for them because according to publishing companies all the other boys today are too busy playing video games. My boys play video games too but that does not mean that there is no room for a book also! I did a little research for this post and found a New York Times article that discussed this topic. The author, Robert Lipsyte has some interesting points to make:
"But I think it’s also about the books being published. Michael Cart, a past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, agrees. “We need more good works of realistic fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, on- or offline, that invite boys to reflect on what kinds of men they want to become,” he told me. “In a commercially driven publishing environment, the emphasis is currently on young women.” And then some. At the 2007 A.L.A. conference, a Harper executive said at least three-quarters of her target audience were girls, and they wanted to read about mean girls, gossip girls, frenemies and vampires.
Naturally, authors are writing for this ready group. The current surge in children’s literature has been fueled by talented young female novelists fresh from M.F.A. programs who in earlier times would have been writing midlist adult fiction. Their novels are bought by female editors, stocked by female librarians and taught by female teachers. It’s a cliché but mostly true that while teenage girls will read books about boys, teenage boys will rarely read books with predominately female characters. "
The entire article can be found here.
I have tried looking for good historical fiction for my son in the adult fiction but a lot of these that deal with battles and wars that he would enjoy reading about almost always contain a lot of bad language and rape scenes that I do not want him to be reading about yet. So what to do? I will continue on my search for good books for my boys to continue their love of reading and hope that there are authors out there who will write some good books teenage boys and most importantly be able to get them published in a time when books for boys are not big sellers!
If anyone knows of some books I could get my kids to try I would love some suggesions!