Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Buzz about Boys

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, a writer for the Edweek blog "Curriculum Matters," wrote today about new ideas in boys' literacy. Here are a few other sites that deal with the same issue:
According to the Wall Street Journal article, books like the "Wicked History" series from Scholastic are the new innovation in convincing boys to like reading.
"'There has been a real revolution' in books that 'have more kid appeal,' especially when it comes to boys, says Ellie Berger, who oversees Scholastic's trade division. 'It's a shift away from the drier books we all grew up with.'"
By "drier books," is Berger talking about ones whose heroes make hard choices to do the right thing? Anyone else spot a problem with this? What are we teaching them to emulate when Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, and Leopold II are their new heroes, and "gore" and "gross" are the selling point?

All this talk about boys' "motivational needs" is great. There's nothing inherently wrong with fun, silly books either, unless those books are not a tune-up for something more substantial. Instead of inspiring our sons to be motivated by true heroes, we lower our expectations--and, by consequence, theirs.

The other problem is that this type of solution misses the roots: families not reading together, and fathers not taking an active role in mentoring their sons.

As I've mentioned before, Dr. James Dobson's book and video, Bringing Up Boys, gives a detailed account of the statistics about modern boys whose fathers have abandoned their instruction in the things of God. He says 25% of American boys over five years old never see their biological fathers again. Why Boys Fail picks up on some of this when the author talks about boys missing out when they have no male teachers (i.e. role models).

The parents' role is to actively pursue the godly upbringing of their children. For girls and boys, that includes sharing the great stories of literature and giving them real heroes to use as models.

2 comments:

Beth said...

Thanks for the great info!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

My eldest son is reading over my shoulder assuring me that he has not been dumbed down with the fiction books he reads...hee hee.