Guys & Reading

Today I visited the Guys Read website. As the name might suggest, they’re dedicated to getting boys to read. On their main page, they say “Research shows that boys are having trouble reading, and that boys are getting worse at reading. No one is quite sure why.”

Walk into the teen section of a bookstore, that might give you a clue about why.

A few weeks ago I went to Borders and perused their YA section. I’d never been in this particular Borders, but the YA books weren’t too difficult to find–the towering Twilight display would’ve been hard to miss. From the books to calendars to t-shirts to who knows what, the whole section of the store was pretty much a shrine to Edward, Jacob, and Bella. The shelves themselves obviously had other books–a paranormal romance here…oh and there…and there…. And if I wasn’t looking at paranormal romances, I was looking at pink titles and flawless-skinned girls’ faces on the covers.

Now tell me, in that visual did you see anything that might possibly entice a teenage boy to set foot in there?

Uh huh, me neither.

There are great books out there that guys would enjoy reading; I’ve read quite a few. But if they can’t get past the cover or even feel comfortable walking into the teen section of a bookstore, of course they’re not reading. Ok, ok, so that may not be the only problem. But I still think that publishing companies, book sellers, etc., should at least attempt to entice guys to read.

A perfect example: The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. In my opinion, guys would enjoy those books. My husband did & Ben from my writer’s group did. But as Ben pointed out, he felt like he had to hide the cover whenever he was reading in public. And this is a grown, married guy with developed confidence in his masculinity. A teenage boy would never dream of reading that book, unless he was hiding in his room doing it. So come on, publishers. Give these guys more to work with. Don’t give them the excuse to not read.

Here are some books I’ve read recently that I think guys would enjoy:

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (ages 10-14)
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (maybe tear off the cover)
Gone by Michael Grant

Anyone else have recommendations for guys?

About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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4 Responses to Guys & Reading

  1. Becca Palmer says:

    Hi, Karen!

    I completely agree that there need to be more books geared towards boys. I saw that problem with my brothers growing up–during their teen years they just weren’t interested in reading the smarmy girl-type books that are so pervasive in the teen section of libraries. Weird! 🙂

    In order to stem the tide, I decided to go old-school. I gave each of my brothers a copy of the book Ender’s Game (no italics?? How can I express myself properly?!?) by Orson Scott Card. It’s usually in the sci-fi section of the bookstore so a guy can go in and feel comfortable perusing other similar-typed books. The usual paperback covers in that section tend more towards space or war/guns, or both. The book itself is one of my favorites. They’ve all loved that book and three of the four then came back for more recommendations. The fourth kept reading on his own, so that is good.

    I think there need to be more teen books geared towards boys as well. I was reading an earlier post of yours where you talked about reading the first several pages of a book in order to determine if it was worth checking out of a library. My opinion is that boys’ teen books need to “grab” attention immediately, otherwise it’s just a lost cause.


    • I really should read Ender’s Game (and I agree about the italics :-), because, yes, that is a book that I often hear guys like.
      But yeah, there are books they’ll read in the adult sections, like sci-fi/fantasy or the John Grisham type stuff. But I definitely think that they need to be able to find things to read in the teen section and not have to resort to the adult section. I’ve noticed that there are more boy books for younger readers, up to about 12 or 14, but then it fades out.

      And you are SO right…grab their attention or it’s a lost cause.

      Oh, and thanks so much for reading & commenting!

  2. Suey says:

    Interesting, I was going to say Ender’s Game too. But thinking a little more current, my son LOVES the Pendragon series (by D.J. Hale). And it for sure has boyish looking covers.

    Also how about the Artimus Fowl series, the Grey Griffin’s series and the Bartimeaus Triology. What do you think?

  3. Pingback: Rowdy Boys & Quiet Boxes « Typing with My Toes

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