Ask any teacher and you will find that they have at least one boy in their class who will only read sports books. Or dinosaur books. Or planet books. Or there is nothing at all in the classroom library that will suffice.
Rarely, will you find a boy in an upper elementary classroom looking for the traditional fiction books that we stock in our classroom libraries. Not all boys, but at least one.
As one recent reading study suggested...
“The books that appeal to boys are rarely Caldecott or Newbery Award selections and can actually frequently be found on banned book lists.”
In case you're wondering what that list is, you can find it here. It includes Harry Potter, The Chocolate War, Scary Stories, My Brother Sam is Dead, Fat Kid Rules the World and some great adult classics.
The goal is to get them through the gateway of reading. Once they're through, we motivate them to read more complex material (more on that in a different post, but you have to get them consistently reading first!). Boys tend to like edgier material, things that will throw the adults in their lives for a loop. Those are usually books that we don't always keep around in our school libraries.
The idea here is to engage your boy readers. We must use the topics they like and stock their libraries full of books they would most likely pick up and find interesting. If they can't find the books that are interesting to them, they start to believe that they don't exist. And that reading is not for them.
So, what interests them? You know your reader best, but the research bears this out. Boys tend to like:
- Books in series. Once they find one they like, they want to know there are more of them.
- Graphic Novels
- Succinct texts - magazines and newspapers, which are not always kept in classrooms
- Books with male main characters in action settings -Harry Potter and Gary Paulsen books
So, what are some of the banned books that are appropriate for boys in elementary and middle school?
- The Stupids Series (for younger readers) - Level K
- Goosebumps Stories, Guided Reading Levels range from O to U
- Scary Stories, Level P
- Captain Underpants, Level P
- The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, Level Q
- The Boy Who Lost His Face, Level R
- Saga - series of graphic novels, no Level
- Bone - Ranges from Levels S to W
- Harry Potter, Level V (and bonus, there is a new Illustrated Harry Potter series)
- Harris and Me, Level V
- Athletic Shorts, Level Y
- Friday Night Lights, Level Y
- His Dark Materials, Level Z
- Fallen Angels (for middle schoolers content wise), Level Z
- A Day No Pigs Would Die, Level Z
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Level Z
- Fat Kid Rules the World
- The Chocolate War
And bonus, a number of these are series and can be followed immediately up with the next book. Keep in mind, you can also read these with your boys. They can be your read-aloud book.
Let's get our boys reading enthusiastically. Enjoy!