but only a few should be
chewed and digested thoroughly.
Back to school. Three words that every child dreads to hear. However, that’s exactly what children and teens across Canada did last week. They headed back with sharpened pencils, pristine erasers and colourful pens. But not every child around the world is so fortunate.
Owlkids, home of Chirp, chickaDEE and OWL, plans to change that. They have partnered with UNICEF Canada to purchase 630 school-in-a-box kits for children in need. The campaign called Changing Lives Through Education aims to “bring a sense of normalcy back to a child’s life” during a crisis.
Each school-in-a-box “enables a teacher and 80 children to get back to class — with a blackboard, teaching posters, exercise books and more.” To date, Owlkids and UNICEF Canada have raised $750.00. With no fixed minimum, patrons are free to donate as much as they can afford.
The time has come to make a difference. So, dear readers, step right up.
Posted in Books, In The News, tagged Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?, Donald Gallo, Gary D. Schmidt, Holes, I Am The Messenger, Jon Scieszka, Louis Sachar, Markus Zusak, Michael Cart, Robert Lipsyte, The New York Times, The Wednesday Wars, Young Adult Library Services Association on September 1, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
On Friday, August 19, 2011, Robert Lipsyte published an article entitled “Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?” for The New York Times. The premise of the piece is to “demystify … the testosterone code that would get teenage boys reading.”
The truth of the matter is that “boys’ aversion to reading, let alone to novels, has been worsening for years.” The question is why? Lipsyte provides a slew of answers from both Donald Gallo and Jon Scieszka. However, Michael Cart’s answer forced me to take pause. Cart, a past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, summarizes the problem quite eloquently. He states,
“We need more good works of realistic fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, on- or offline, that invite boys to reflect on what kinds of men they want to become,” he told me. “In a commercially driven publishing environment, the emphasis is currently on young women.”
I cannot refute Cart’s point. The publishing industry is currently exploding with books on angels, fairies, gossip girls, vampires, werewolves, et cetera all of which are geared towards girls. I’ll be the first to admit that these topics have never been nor will ever be of interest to boys.
So, the question remains: Is there any hope? Well, yes, there is. I wholeheartedly agree with Lipsyte:
[B]oys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.
There is a treasure trove of material out there that includes The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt, Holes by Louis Sachar and I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. However, it’s getting these books into the hands of boys that’s going to require every librarian, teacher and parent. To do so, we must educate ourselves before we can begin to inform the teenage boys in our lives. It’s not going to be easy but it can be done.