Hello, lovely bookworms! Welcome to my stop of the Come Sit By Me Tour from the 3rd of August till the 14th of August! Since I have already reviewed this wonderful book – which can be found here, for this tour stop, the wonderful Thomas Hoobler has graciously agreed to write a thought provoking guest post on the topic – Do Boys Read?
I hope you all enjoy this beautiful post and do not forget to add this book to your GoodReads Shelf!
Do Boys Read?
As Jane Austen might have written, “Among publishers of YA books, it is a truth universally acknowledged that teenage boys do not read books.”
One might argue (and I have) that the reason boys don’t read books is that publishers only publish books for girls. Then I risk being accused of sexism, for there are people who will tell you that boys ought to like the same books that girls do.
I realized this wasn’t true many years ago when I was in the eighth grade. I enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys series of books, by Franklin W. Dixon. As it happened, the seventh-grade girl who lived next door liked to read the Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene. (Neither of us knew that Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene were the same person, a prolific writer named Harriet Stratemeyer, who employed many ghost writers to turn out countless books in these and other series.)
Well, the girl next door and I traded books, since we both enjoyed reading. I thought the Carolyn Keene books were O.K. but not as good as the Franklin W. Dixon ones. She thought Franklin W. Dixon’s works were acceptable, but inferior to Carolyn Keene’s. We didn’t argue about it; we just agreed that our preferences were different.
There is a difference between books that girls like to read and the ones that appeal to boys. Certain writers, like J.K. Rowling, manage to write books that everybody seems to enjoy–but she wasn’t writing for teenagers.
But I don’t think boys like books that are aimed at girls. I often read YA novels where the male characters are what many teen girls would like boys to be–considerate, polite, thoughtful, gentle, not eager for sex. These are no more realistic than the men who appear on the covers of romance books aimed at adult women. They are fantasies, but not the kind of fantasies that appeal to boys.
The book I’ve just published, COME SIT BY ME, has boys in it that I tried to make realistic. (At least one girl character is fully drawn as well.) One of the early reviewers said she was “shocked” that one of the male narrators made a derogatory remark about a girl’s looks. It wasn’t a vulgar or overtly sexual remark; he just thought the girl wasn’t good looking. Anybody who is shocked by this has no idea what real teenage boys are like. Unfortunately, that kind of person dominates the YA publishing industry. If none of the YA books that are published included minority characters, there would be a demand for more diversity. I feel that we need more books with truly drawn male characters. They too have become a minority group, and we have to bring them back to reading books.