Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boy readers, writers, etc.

"I think there's a prevailing misconception out there that boy reader equals reader of nonfiction. Actually, literacy studies have shown that boys have no higher a degree of preference for nonfiction than girls do. Why is there this common buy-in, then, this assumption, that boys want to only read nonfiction?"  - Andrew Smith

I found the above quote interesting because not long ago I was flipping through Boy Writers at a bookstore, and it seemed to indicate that teachers who want to engage boys in writing should aim for nonfiction. 

I also found it interesting because I've noticed that in the bookstore I'm in the most, there's a fairly equal split between books aimed at boys and those aimed at girls for the early readers (6-9 years) middle grade audience (8-12 years).  Once you go to the young adult section (13-18 years), though, the split is more like 90% girls, 8% boys (2% equal opportunity).

I wonder if anyone's done any research on that.  Cause?  Effect? 

Do you have any thoughts, opinions, ideas, or experiences to share?

1 comment:

  1. I had the impression that boys were just less likely to read as much as girls in the teenage years, not that they were suddenly more interested in nonfiction.

    I know my mom had trouble finding reading material for my brother; there's definitely a lot more out there which isn't specifically aimed at girls now. Paul and I read a fair amount of young adult fiction which I'm sure would be attractive to guys as much as (or possibly more than) girls- I'm thinking of Timothy Zahn's dragonback series, the whole steampunk genre, Dianna Wynne Jones' stuff...

    It may be, though, that the male young adult readers are all busy shopping in the sci fi/fantasy section, since they're most likely geeks (Paul agrees with me on this one)- and the marketers have taken it into account.

    I would be curious as to what exactly qualifies a book as being "for young adults", given that 1) I enjoy reading some of the young adult titles even though my teen years are far behind, and 2) it's not like all (most?) of the fiction marketed to adults is inappropriate for teens. Teenage characters, coming-of-age stories, first loves, and the like are probably good candidates; perhaps teenage girls are (perceived as being?) more interested in fiction that features these elements? I'm trying to remember what I was like as a teenager, and the truth is I just read a LOT of everything.