Alack, alas. And why?... Here's a few quotes from the article:
He ticked off the standard answers: Boys gravitate toward nonfiction. Schools favor classics over contemporary fiction to satisfy testing standards and avoid challenges from parents. And teachers don’t always know what’s out there for boys. All true, in my opinion.
There are other theories. On his Web site, guysread.com, the teacher and author Jon Scieszka writes that boys “don’t feel comfortable exploring the emotions and feelings found in fiction. . . . Boys don’t have enough positive male role models for literacy. Because the majority of adults involved in kids’ reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity.”
That last paragraph - jeez - what can I say? Boys don't feel comfortable exploring the nuances of fiction? Boys don't have enough positive male role models for literacy?
The Nathan Fillion poster for children's reading organizations and library drives - CAPTAIN MAL, the poster-child bad-boy starship captain - oh but he isn't a role model. Yanno.
Poor maligned men. They don't have a monkey-see-monkey-do version of literacy - oh look my favourite jock is READING SOMETHING - and so none of them ever pick up a book. What the hell is wrong with this picture?
But I think it’s also about the books being published. Michael Cart, a past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, agrees. “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.” And then some. At the 2007 A.L.A. conference, a Harper executive said at least three-quarters of her target audience were girls, and they wanted to read about mean girls, gossip girls, frenemies and vampires.
In the case of "Twilight" true, I guess. But then "Twilight" was never even aimed at the male dempographic. It was unabashed teen queen soap opera and - surprise! - that's where the readership centered. No, really, I can't see many boys caring that much about Bella's emotional angst or reading about that appalling birth scene without a major-league squick factor involved (unless they had been lured in there with the promise of an "Alien" monent - you know, the creature bursting forth from bloody abodmen, all sharp teeth...) But come on. Harry Potter was a boy-fest. Not even THAT will do? The decade's biggest damned young-lit phenomenon? But you know, it's ALL about girls. And, really, not fair at all. The poor boys are SO underrepresented.
Children’s literature didn’t always bear this overwhelmingly female imprint. Like most readers growing up in the 1940s and ’50s, before the advent of the Y.A. genre, I went directly from children’s books about explorers to Steinbeck and Hemingway.
Um, yes. From boy-centered kids books to MALE WHITE WRITERS of whom there is SUCH a dearth. What did the girls have, growing up in the '40s and '50s? June Cleaver and Nancy Drew? Or the plucky sidekick? Or the kidnapped girlfriend who existed to be rescued by the alpha male hero of the story in hand? And which writers would THEY "go directly to", from "children's books about [presumably MALE] explorers"? How many FEMALE writers were there for the girls to choose as role models, as their go-to adult reading material? And LOOK - they READ ANYWAY. It didn't matter that all they had to read was boy's-own adventures or Hemingway and his huntin'-fishin'-machowarrior tales. If that was what there was that was what they read. But boys - well, it isn't GOOD enough eny morem apparently. Unless they are force fed books about football teams and basketball teams and go-shoot-'em-up adventures where they can put themselves in a starring role, then they'll have nothing at all, thank you, because a "real" man doesn't or can't explore the emotions or the complexities of literature. There ain't no time for that. Gotta go shoot dinner... oh, wait...
Girls were SO under-represented, in all that was out there, for SO LONG, that I find articles whining about how "it's all about the women" REALLY annoying.
I don't think that things will get any better until boys - MEN - figure out that we're all PEOPLE TOGETHER. And that "emotional complexity" is not a weakness. And that reading a book won't make you go blind. And that reading a book which might happen to have a female in a protagonist position won't emasculate you. And that social conditioning CAN be overcome, and that it is GOOD when it is. Even if you ARE a high-school football jock with a "reputation" to preserve, ferchrissakes read a book occasionally. It really REALLY won't kill you. And when your high-school jock days are over at least you will have something to talk to a woman about - it might come as a surprise to you but most of us aren't interested in the latest baseball scores as a topic for after-dinner conversation, and if you don't have a backup plan you are probably going to find it hard going.
Treasure WORDS. It should not matter in the least what sort of plumbing God saw fit to give you. Reading has nothing to do with that. Reading is in the MIND. And YOU have a chance to mold yoru own mind.
Remember, you are PEOPLE. Those are STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE. Go read. And after decades of being on point in almost every genre of literary endeavour, guys, stop whining about being put upon if a girl rides out in front every so often. They damn well deserve the occasional chance to do so. And it makes you no less of a man to follow, for once.