Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Boys Books and Bandits
Who remembers BIGGLES?
Now there were books, unashamedly action books. There's a fan page on Facebook. And a Biggles entry on Wikipedia.
Continuing the theme of male readers that Dave brought up ...
Apparently struggling male readers (4th grade) respond better to female teachers, according to Science Daily.
"Although boys and girls enter kindergarten with similar performance in reading, by the spring of third grade, boys have lower reading scores, which makes this an opportune time for reading intervention."
Now that is a worry. Boys are disengaging from reading as early as the first few years of primary school. See the article here.
And here we have scholarly article on Understanding the Reluctant Male Reader.
"The O'Doherty report (1995) identified various ways boys were significantly over-represented in special language and reading classes. For example, three times more boys than girls were receiving special assistance in New South Wales' schools for reading. Some researchers account for this discrepancy by identifying and defining behaviours associated with learning difficulties. "
Although they did discover that when boys read they read just as well as girls.
"Boys' performance seems to have been facilitated by the high interest material, while girls comprehended nearly as much of the low interest material as the high. Two possible explanations for this phenomenon present themselves: if reading is seen as sex appropriate for girls and sex inappropriate for boys, boys may require the additional incentive of high interest material. An alternate explanation is that girls may have a greater familiarity with vocabulary. This study seems to indicate that some achievement tests may not provide the type of material that encourages boys to demonstrate their abilities. "
And here is a Huffington Post article Dudes Don't Read: The Book Biz's Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
He asked if publishers have given up trying to publish and market books that males want to read. He asks:
"Where are the badass young male writers of today? Would Hunter S. Thompson or Kurt Vonnegut or Brett Easton Ellis or Jay McInerney or Alex Garland or Chuck Palahniuk even get book deals if their debut novels were written today? How can we make reading novels -- and writing them -- cool again for guys under thirty?"
Having just spent weeks marking movie treatments by young males aged between 17 and 25, here are my observations.
7 out of 10 young males want to read/see movies about young men who have to battle evil men/monsters, with a band of like minded young men. The higher the kill count the better.
The other 3 out of 10 young men are incurable romantics and write about falling in love.
I guess there would have to be some romantic males out there, or the human race would never have survived. And, conversely, we need the other 7 out of 10 males to fight off the saber tooth tigers.
Maybe what writers need to give the young male reader is the same wish fulfilment that a romance gives a female, a high kill count, the respect of his fellow men and a machine gun that never needs reloading.
Luckily I'm married to one of the romantics. So, do you think my estimate is accurate?