Boys and Reading

August 24, 2011

Robert Lipsyte author and winner of the 2001 Margaret A. Edwards award wrote in the New York Times Sunday Book Review: Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?  He writes that novels are “bought by female editors, stocked by female librarians and taught by female teachers.”

To me and I think to many prospective readers, today’s books for boys — supernatural space-and-sword epics that read like video game manuals and sports novels with preachy moral messages — often seem like cynical appeals to the lowest common denominator. Boys prefer video games and ESPN to book versions of them. These knockoffs also lack the tough, edgy story lines that allow boys a private place to reflect on the inner fears of failure and humiliation they try so hard to brush over. Editors who ask writers of books for boys to include girl characters — for commercial reasons — further blunt the edges.

Great books are being written for boys, they just need to find them:

… boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.

via PW Daily 8/23/11

posting by Lorraine




Over the weekend, Meghan Cox Gurdon at the Wall Street Journal wrote an article: Darkness Too Visible: contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity.  Why is this considered a good idea?  She writes that fiction aimed at young adults in recent years has become rife with pathologies, that  “kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.”

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.

Twitter went crazy under the hashtag #YASaves.  Bookshelves of Doom posted a round up of responses.

One-Minute Book Reviews posted In Defense of Meghan Cox Gurdon, Children’s Book Reviewer.

Novelist and dad Christopher John Farley wrote Should Young Adult Books Explore Difficult Issues?

Galleycat posted: Wall Street Journal Reporter Sparks Controversy with YA Readers which includes responses from Teen authors:

Neil Gaiman: I get letters from readers – 2 or 3 every month – telling me how my books got them through hell. & the Teens have the worst hells. #YAsaves

Melissa de la Cruz: Let the kids read what they want, leave ‘em alone. But gosh, that brought a lot of traffic to @WSJ didn’t it?

Laurie Halse Anderson: Just blogged my thoughts about the ridiculously stupid @wsj article: . What do you think? #YAsaves

Libba Bray: At 18, after a devastating car accident, reading helped save my life & led me to write. #YAsaves

Meg Cabot: Everyone should read what they like w/o being judged! #Romancesaves #Comixsaves #Horrorsaves

What do you think?

via PW Morning Report

posting by Lorraine

Lois Duncan reissued

January 5, 2011

School Library Journal posted in Fresh Approaches: Lois Duncan’s Spine-Tinglers are Updated for a New Generation  that Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has started reissuing Lois Duncan classic Teen titles with “eye-catching new covers, modernized texts, interviews with the author, and discussion guides.”

The first three out are (these titles will be on order for Sno-Isle this month):

  • I Know What You Did Last Summer
  • Killing Mr. Griffin
  • Don’t Look Behind You

Seven more titles are in the works, one of which is A Gift of Magic which I devoured in 7th grade.  I’ll order them for the collection as they are published.

posting by Lorraine

the Phineas Gage ditty

November 4, 2010

one of my favorite nonfiction titles which i’ve featured on the “What We’re Reading Banner” is John Fleischman’s “Phineas Gage:  A Gruesome But True Story about Brain Science.”  in case you’re not familiar with his story, Phineas Gage was a railroad foreman who had a 13 lb., 3 1/2″ long iron rod pass through his brain and lived to tell about it.  the year was 1848 when little was known about brain science, that is until Gage’s unfortunate accident with dynamite.

Hank Green of Brotherhood 2.0 and nerdfighter fame (and the singing brother of John Green) wrote and recorded a song about Phineas Gage.

(via bookshelves of doom)

posting by marin

John Green and David Levithan discuss their new teen novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson in the San Francisco Chronicle, Authors, characters in tandem in ‘Will Grayson.’

The book is about two young men with the same name.  who both struggle with identity issues.  One Will is straight and the other gay.  So far, there has been little negative reaction to the gay themes in the books:

“I know that will come,” Levithan says, “but for more and more kids, gay is no big deal to them. For every kid who is still suffering silently, there are many who don’t have to.”

Does the acceptance of “Will Grayson” signal a sea change in teen literature?

“Absolutely,” Levithan says. “You are getting a much more expansive number of voices in teen literature than you’ve ever had before. Many diverse populations being are being represented …”

“And represented well,” Green adds. “We have a publishing freedom that they don’t necessarily have in adult fiction, which is hilarious to me. However, I think there is a problem with getting those great books to readers. I think that too many of the good books that reflect the world as it is don’t find a readership because they’re choked out by bad books.”

via PW Children’s Bookshelf

posting by Lorraine

The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature has been around for ten years now.  Booklist Online in What’s Printz-worthy?, asked Printz winners, “(W)hat if the Michael L. Printz Award had been established years, even decades earlier? What are some of the books that might have been deemed Printz-worthy?”

Some of the responses were:

  • Celine by Brock Cole  (1989) — Ellen Wittlinger, author of Printz Honor Book Hard Love (1999)
  • The Land of Nod Rockabye Book by Jay Stephens (1999) — Gene Luen Yang, author of Printz Award Winner American Born Chinese (2006)
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1938) — Helen Frost, author of Printz Honor Book Keesha’s House (2003)

What books do you find Printz-worthy?

via Booklist Quip Tips Newsletter

posting by Lorraine

the Edgar Awards were announced last night:

Best Novel: “The Last Child” by John Hart
Best First Novel: “In the Shadow of Gotham” by Stefanie Pintoff
Best Paperback Original: “Body Blows” by Marc Strange (on order)
Best Fact Crime: “Columbine” by Dave Cullen
Best Critical/Biographical: “The Lineup: The World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives” edited by Otto Penzler
Best Short Story: “Amapola” in “Phoenix Noir” by Luis Alberto Urrea
Best Young Adult: “Reality Check” by Peter Abrahams
Best Juvenile: “Closed for the Season” by Mary Downing Hahn

congrats!  someday i will get to the arc of “The Last Child” that i snagged and i just placed a hold on the audio of “Columbine.”

posting by marin


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