So now that you know why boys don't read (and how they do), here's a quick list of some titles that would be knockout choices for holiday gifts for boys in middle through high school:
Alive in the Killing Fields: Surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide is a work of non-fiction by Nawuth Keat about his time as a child in war-town Cambodia. It sounds reminiscent of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, which is another work of non-fiction about growing up in war torn Sierra Leone. What's appealing about these titles? In both cases, the main character -- a real person -- sees a problem and acts upon it (or is acted upon, as the case may be). There's war, there's action, and there's a gripping story.
Guardian Of The Spirit (Moribito)by Nahoko Uehashi is a graphic novel but is part of a series that's laden with mythology and thus more similar to manga. There's swords, action, and great graphics that'll keep boys plowing through. And hey, when they finish this one, there are more in the series.
I'll admit this is a riskier choice, simply because it's not your standard Gordon Korman book. But either way, it was one of my favorite reads lately. Pop is a story about Marcus, a football player who's just transferred schools and is having a hard time having the new team give him respect. He decides to take up practicing at the local park, where he meets an old man who is quite a prankster. Turns out that guy is the father of Troy Popovich, football team quarterback and he has a major mental health issue -- so Marcus takes it upon himself to connect Charlie with his past and his present. This book has sports and has a character who sees a problem and tackles it full on. Oh, and it's funny!
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman is all fantasy. In this story, 12-year-old boys have the opportunity to become an apprentice of the Dragoneyes -- men who harness the power of the 12 energy dragons. But there's a twist this time, with a girl perhaps being chosen instead of a boy. This one's got a lot of myth and action and a proposed sequel in the works.
I've mentioned both of these series before, but it's not going to hurt to repeat them. Darren Shan is a wildly popular horror writer for both the middle and high school grade boys.
Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare will appeal to the younger set. This book series was just made into a film, too, which will come out after the holidays. But you know, there is also Cirque Du Freak: The Manga . So if they read the books, maybe the manga will appeal to them, too.
Of if they've finished that series or are more in the high school set, you should give them The Demonata #1: Lord Loss: Book 1 in the Demonata series. The ninth book in this series just came out, so there is plenty of reading here.
And lastly, here's something you probably won't see from me again simply because I am a Very Biased Person and as a librarian, I am willing to admit it. But here it is. I'm going to recommend James Patterson's Maximum Ride Series. This is a book with adventure and science fiction, both of which have mega boy appeal. But here's my other reason for recommending Patterson's teen series -- it's a gateway. Maximum Ride also is a graphic novel series. Two ways to read it.
Oh did I say he was a gateway? Well, he is. He also has another popular teen series called Daniel X. Finished that one already? Well, there's a new series coming out sure to appeal to boys, too, as well as those who are obsessed with the paranormal: Witch & Wizard. The first book came out this last Tuesday. When those books are finished, Patterson's got an entire world of adult fiction that more sophisticated readers can dive into (some are a little more risque than others, and some are perfectly suitable). Know why else Patterson's a gateway? He'll get kids interested in reading books like Patterson's, which will open up their worlds to new authors and adventures. As much as he annoys me as a librarian (he's a shelf hog), he does something for readers and for reading.
There you have it -- a short list of books sure to please the boys you are still looking to buy for. Remember to check out Michael Sullivan's website, too, for more recommendations.
And as promised, here's a quick bibliography of the research for this series of posts based on Sullivan's program:
- Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries Can Do
- Connecting Boys with Books 2: Closing the Reading Gap (ALA Editions)
- Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
- The Power of Reading, Second Edition: Insights from the Research
- Misreading Masculinity: Boys, Literacy, and Popular Culture
- Better than Life
- Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences