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Getting Boys to Read, Part II February 8, 2011

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.

In March of last year, I wrote about discovering that although neither of my sons enjoys reading, my youngest son shows more interest in nonfiction than fiction. (I’d heard this preference holds true for boys in general.)

My youngest son kept telling me he would read more fiction if he could find funny books. He read all the Captain Underpants books when he was in second and third grade, and as a fourth and fifth grader, all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I tried giving him suggested titles from a local librarian. His verdict? Not funny.

I’ve written a few humorous stories for children’s magazines, and my son read one of those and said, “That was funny! You should write a book like that.” But being funny for an entire book would be so difficult. I don’t think humor writers get near the accolades they deserve. Writing humor is hard work.

The magazine story he liked was a cross between an adventure story and a tall tale. I wondered if he would like adventure stories or Mark Twain. Good news: He likes adventure stories. The principal at his school recommended the Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz. My son read four out of the six books and enjoyed them. I read the first book in the series, and it’s basically a James Bond series with a boy as the spy. Now I don’t know what my son will move on to when he’s finished the series, but I discovered a couple more things through this process.

First, both of my sons like series. I tend to think children who like collecting things might be more inclined to read series. The same desire to complete a set goes into both interests.

Second, I’m really grateful for male educators (as well as female educators). The principal who recommended these books had sons of his own and remembered what he himself liked reading as a child. He told me to let him know when my son is ready for a new series. I guess I should have thought to ask a guy what guys like to read. I keep learning. 🙂



1. Kathryn - February 9, 2011

Ronica – an update to the diatribe I sent you last year. My going on 9yr old grandson continues to read almost anything in sight and the current report form my oldest son is that the Kindergarten grandson is reading all he can in both Spanish and English. A few months back he realized that he could read parts of the Washington Post headlines. My son is rather giddy and delights as he watches the family genes of reading and writing continue with his sons. The fact that the children were read to from birth and that bookshelves line the walls don’t hurt. The K grandson is one of those cars-trucks-sports boys, but sat for hours to listen to Frog and Toad a year ago. We kept changing adult readers as we tended to fall asleep after several readings. He just stayed totally enthralled. A great book is never old. Kathryn

2. Ronica Stromberg - February 9, 2011

Kathryn, Somehow your post last year never made it to the blog comments. (Sometimes people e-mail me directly with a response to something on my blog or they respond through Facebook.) The only responses that make it to the site have to come through the “Post Comment” option on the blog itself. Anyway, your comment posted this time.

That’s fabulous that your grandson in kindergarten is reading in both Spanish and English! He may want to check out some of the picture books that use both languages. And I agree that a great book is never old.

3. gravesok - February 16, 2011

Has your son read the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins? There are 5 in the series and they are soooo good. I recommend them to students all the time. Especially the boys. The Alex Rider series is definitely one of my favorites too. I am a HUGE series fan. I am more apt to pick up a book if it has more than one in the series. The Gregor books have humor, adventure, talking giant rats, huge flying bats, cockroaches you can ride on, all set in an underground world. WONDERFUL! Also there is the series The Adventures of Ordinary Boy. Those are fun too for boys. Oh so many great possibilities out there!!!

Ronica Stromberg - February 16, 2011

I asked my son, and he had read a few Gregor the Overlander books and liked them. I suggested The Adventures of Ordinary Boy. He had not read that yet. Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine runs a monthly column with a similar name, “Adventures of Average Boy.” Is the series based on that? Thanks for the suggestions!

4. gravesok - February 22, 2011

I doubt that they are the same. Here is a link on Amazon for the series: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+adventures+of+ordinary+boy

There’s also The Diary of a Wimpy kid series out. It is fun and all of the boys love it.

The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix is pretty good too. But it is a bit on the edgy side.

Ronica Stromberg - February 22, 2011

My son has read all of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I’ll look into the Shadow Children series. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

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