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Getting Boys to Read March 4, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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Boys don’t read. I’ve heard that countless times, but as an author and a mother of two sons, I expected my boys to be different. I nearly cleaned out my library’s picture book shelves by reading to my oldest son. He always seemed eager to curl up with me and a book. But he’s in middle school now and rarely reads for pleasure. Same with my son in elementary school. They text and e-mail friends and read snippets from magazines such as Sports Illustrated for Kids, Boys’ Life, and National Geographic Kids. I’m glad they read magazines and read and write text or e-mail messages, but I’d like to get them more interested in books.

And I think I’ve discovered a mistake I’ve made over the years. I supplied my boys with a wide range of fiction, including nearly all the Newbery Award winners. My boys turned up their noses or expressed a dislike for these books, even calling the award winners “boring.” Then I noticed the books my youngest son chose from the school library:  Guiness World Records, biographies, and nonfiction of all sorts. I had generously supplied my boys with fiction–the types of books I like to read–but little nonfiction.

I should have gotten a clue from the magazines they were reading, all nonfiction. And, as a writer, I knew that boys tend to gravitate toward nonfiction and genres of fiction like sports, adventure, science fiction, and westerns. Still, I slipped into my own reading habits when purchasing books for them.

So, these past two months, I’ve allowed my sons to order whatever books they want from the book clubs at school (Scholastic, Troll, and the like). My oldest son has yet to order one, but my youngest son has ordered two. Both books are full-color, highly illustrated books about athletes and their accomplishments. Snore city, I’d say.

Only I’ve caught my son reading them in bed at night. 🙂





1. Crystal Allen - March 5, 2010

Hey Ronica,

This is precisely why I write books for boys. My sons have always read, but as they got out of elementary school, the selection got smaller and smaller. Yes, they like non-fiction, but I think Harry Potter showed us that boys will read fiction, too, if we write about things they WANT to read.

I’ve written a book entitled “How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy” about a 13 year old boy who loves bowling, but when it comes to girls, he has “no game.” I hope this book attracts readers like your sons. Good luck and keep fighting the good fight.

2. Ronica Stromberg - March 5, 2010

Crystal, I think I’ve heard of your book. Did it recently go to auction? If so, who was the winning publisher and when will the book be published?

Neither of my sons will read the Harry Potter books. My youngest son will read humorous fiction, but that’s hard to find. He liked the Captain Underpants and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I wrote three funny short stories and was hoping to sell them as a chapter book for young readers, but no publisher contracted for them. I finally sold the first story to Clubhouse magazine, and my son brought the magazine to school and told his second-grade teacher she should read my story to the whole class. She invited me in, I read the story, and the following year, my son wanted me to do it again! I told him, “But your classmates have already heard this story.” He said, “Yeah, and they really liked it, so we should do it again.” Funny kid. I wish I could find some more funny fiction for him.

3. Crystal Allen - March 19, 2010

Hi Ronica,

Yes, my book when to auction and Harper Collins was the winning publisher. As of right now, “How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won A Bubba-Sized Trophy” is due out March 1, 2011. I don’t know if they’re going to publish it in hardcover first. Right now I’m still working with them on the cover art. But if you’d like, I’d be more than happy to keep you posted on the progress. Thanks so much for asking.

Crystal Allen

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