Monday, March 22, 2010

Get Those Guys Reading!

It's easy.

Don't be fooled by people who say boys don't like to read. They just don't like to read what YOU want them to read.

1. My very unscientific study of the male juvenile has yielded these guaranteed boy pleasers:


If you can combine these themes into one volume (Captain Underpants Destroys the Evil Explosive Diaper King with Hard Slapshot!), you can't miss.

2. Boys like facts. The more obscure, more disgusting or inane the better. How many times have you heard something like this from a male under 12: "Did you know that grasshoppers get parasites that make them commit suicide by jumping in a lake?"  (Full disclosure: this particular fact appears in my own The Insecto-Files.)

Fact-filled books are therefore bound to appeal to the little darlings, especially if the facts appear in clearly delineated starbursts!!! and with lots!!! of exclamation points!!!!!

3. Boys like to move around. Not all of them are ADD, you know, some are just normal. And normal boys don't want to dipsy-doo with little fine motory crap that requires them to sit on their duffs either. Dispy-doos includes books that you have to sit and study to get into. Give em a book they can read while doing something - like building a completely unsafe go-kart. Or offer a book that is chock full of activities that can direct junior to jump up and blow something to smithereens (see #1).

4. Boys are impatient. Give em a story that grabs you by the garbanzos from the get go: "The diaper exploded with massive force. Captain Canuck wiped the foul fecal matter from his face and let his own explosion rip...."

5. Boys like to show off. Give em books that can make them the instant-expert with their peeps. "Did you know that alligators eat humans 3.4627% of the time they smell salami?"

6. Boys like to categorize, sort, analyze. Those blasted pokemon cards, or baseball cards, or collections of itty bit things you step on that all have points and attributes and counterparts and hit strength. Give them books that cater to this love - baseball annuals, hockey stats, Guiness Records, whatever. They'll pore over it as if it offered the secret of immortality.

7. Make em laugh. They love to laugh - don't we all? And maybe their sensitive side isn't as developed  as their sister's. So give em the riddle books, the collection of ghastly jokes, the disgusting visual puzzle jokes that feature pictures of bandaids being ripped off oozing sores. the tacky, the tasteless, the rebellious a la Bart Simpson.

Try it! They'll read, and they'll say thank you too.


  1. Hooray! What a fabulous snappy and funny post. My son will not read what I want him to but give him a sports mag and he's happy.

  2. You are so right, Helaine! And I'm not sure it ever changes. Just today I caught Brent snickering while working on the edit for his fall book, Takedown. When I asked him to share, he read me a line he'd just written about farting on a couch. Sigh.


Because: Science!