The gender divide in books for young people

March 28, 2011

Sarah Pekkanen wrote in the Washington Post: Sarah Pekkanen on the gender divide in children’s books.

…[W]hen it comes to children’s and young adult novels, many publishers are scrambling to capture the attention of the elusive, picky boy readers. Girls tend to accept a broad range of books, especially if romance is a thread in the story line. But boys lag behind girls in reading skills in all 50 states, making reading “the most pressing gender-gap issue facing our schools,” according to a 2010 report by the Center on Education Policy.  Captivating boys and making reading fun presents a big challenge — but it can translate into an enormous payoff, as Scholastic learned again when the fifth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” earned $185 million in just six months.

Girls are more apt to read anything, but boys stay away from things with covers that look too “girly”.    Boys are not threatened by humor which is why the Wimpy Kid books are so successful.

via PW Children’s Bookshelf

Here are a couple of websites that I know of to look at to see ideas for books that might interest boys:

  • James Patterson realized a few years ago that his son didn’t really love books.  He started the website to find books that his son and other boys would find fun and interesting.  This is also why Patterson has started writing books for young people:

In fact, one of my proudest moments as a writer was when I passed him the manuscript of The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. Not only did he like it, he told me it was his favorite.

  • Jon Scieszka has Guys Read which is a web-based literacy program for boys.  The mission of this site is: “to help boys become self-motivated, life-long readers.”

posting by Lorraine


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