May 10

Best Books For Boys

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Noble with a few of Pam's suggested books. He is holding "Art" by Patrick McDonnell. We've read it probably 15 times in the past week!

Show of hands: who wishes their son would take no interest in reading and make his way through life completely illiterate?  Anybody?  Show of hands.  Anyone?  No reading, no comprehension whatsoever of the written word…would look at this post and see a bunch of odd alien symbols. Anyone? Alright, I think we squeaked by with a 100% hands down on that.

You ever go to the library and get overwhelmed in the sea of children’s books?  There are a ton of books for kids.  And many are bad!  I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read to Noble where the rhymes don’t even rhyme! And if you have a 5 year old boy, then you know how difficult it is to keep their attention.  It’s hard to get a young boy into storytime when the story at storytime is booooring.

It was perfect timing that I would be asked to read and review a book written by Pam Allyn called Best Books For Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives.(this is not one of those affiliate link dealios. I will NOT earn 4 cents if you click the link and buy the book) Pam Allyn is the Executive Director and founder of LitWorld and LitLife. I think it might be an understatement to say that she has an interest in literacy.  I must say that her work is phenomenal! In Best Books For Boys, Pam has done all kinds of research to find engaging books that appeal to boys; something that is lacking in the schools. For some reason, there is a shortage of engaging books for boys in the school systems.  The statistics that she provides in her book are a bit startling, and upsetting.

But even with these unpleasant statistics, Pam is able to inspire us to embrace the differences in learning styles between boys and girls and between the different levels of development that are unique to all children. Everyone learns differently, so we shouldn’t have one set way to teach reading.

The book is written for teachers, but as a parent I have received an amazing resource.  The majority of the book contains suggested reading materials, broken down into categories like Expeditions, Fantasy and Imagination, Folktales, Myths and Tall Tales, Humor, Poetry, and more.  And if that wasn’t convenient enough, she has created subcategories for each section, breaking the books down even further to Emerging Readers, Developing Readers, and Mature Readers.  And if THAT wasn’t convenient enough, there is a description of most of the books!  And if THAAAAT wasn’t convenient enough, a robot will pop out of the book and, using GPS, find a local library and check out the book for you!  Ok, the last part isn’t true, but seriously, how amazing is this resource?!

I have a 5 year old and a 20 month old.  Both boys.  I don’t have the time at the library to nonchalantly grab a book at random, read it quickly, and decide if Noble would like it.  I have impatient meltdowns that are always moments away.  So I normally have to just grab a book and see if the picture of the front looks interesting:  is there a dragon?  Does the dragon look cool?  No?  put it back.  Grab another.  It’s got a mouse on it.  That mouse looks dumb.  Put it back.  Grab another, it’s just a cross eyed kid and a ladder…..oh great I smell poop.  Alistair needs a new diaper and is now screaming…now Noble wants a snack…I have to go.  Cross Eyed Kid and the Ladder it is!  So we read the cross eyed kid and the ladder book and I get to page 3 before Noble is bailing on storytime.  Who can blame him for bailing on a book with a talking ladder?

But I don’t have to worry about these library scenarios anymore.  Now, I will open Best Books for Kids,  glance through the Emerging Readers sections of the various categories (while sitting on the couch at home, drinking coffee) and then I will go online and look for the book in the local library catalog.  I have looked up at least 20 of the suggested books, and every one of them is at the library!  And now I know I’m getting a book that has been researched for it’s educational value and appeal to young boys, and even better – I can just run in to the library, and run out! PERFECT!

As I mentioned before, the book is written for teachers, and it would be an asset for all educators, but this book should be owned by every parent with young boys.  I highly recommend it.  You have a dictionary for words, you have a cookbook for recipes, and you should have a Best Books For Boys for, um, the best books for your boys.

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