and their books should follow suit.
by Leah Sewell
“Biologically, boys are slower to develop than girls and often struggle with reading and writing skills early on.”
“The U.S. Department of Education reading tests for the last 30 years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.”
“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.”
“Many books boys are asked to read don’t appeal to them. They aren’t motivated to want to read.”
These are all pretty dismal-sounding statements, but they’re quoted from the website of the national initiative, Guys Read, that’s taking a stand against literacy problems in American boys.
Started in 2001 by elementary educator Jon Scieszka, Guys Read seeks to get boys reading the kind of stuff that they want to be reading with some camaraderie, snacks and activities peppered into the mix. It’s a program that makes reading palatable to boys around ages 8-12 who again and again, are losing interest in reading in alarming numbers.
Now Topeka area boys can get in on Guys Read by joining the local charter at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Tween Librarian, Jason Lamb, discovered the Guys Read program and has been working to get it implemented at the Topeka Library.
“Educators and librarians tend to push literary fiction on all kids because we think the better the book, the better the reader. But for boys 8-12 years old, they need to be more interested in what they’re reading,” said Lamb. “Boys need more immediate stimulus – action, humor and graphics…Let’s find something they’re interested in, and feed it, shovel it in, and keep finding more and more stuff they’re interested in.”
Lamb is very excited about the program, which begins May 12 (2 p.m. in the library’s Lingo Story Room), and has a lot of cool books, activities and other draws for boys wanting to join the Topeka Field Office, which is the proper name for the local branch of Guys Read, although the boys themselves will come up with their own name for the reading group. Lamb gave the example of “Chicken Machete” as a name founded by one group in the past.
The reading group will also have a secret password, but Lamb wouldn’t divulge this XYZ reporter of any specifics.
“I can’t tell you the password because you’re a girl,” he said plainly.
The charter, which every member will sign at the first meeting, includes provisions like guarantees of snacks, and rules such as “no girls” and “no parents allowed.”
“This will be about fun, first and foremost,” Lamb assured. “And if they know it’s fun, they’ll be more willing to participate.”
The flow of the meetings will proceed as such: 15 minutes of icebreaker stuff, 15 minutes of book discussion and the rest of the time is an activity very loosely-based on the book that the group is reading. The books are free and the group meets once a month.
And what kinds of books will they read?
There’s a Guys Read library that includes titles like “Funny Business” and “Thriller,” fast-paced reading packed with action and humor. But Lamb also plans to spontaneously cull the best boys’ fiction from the stacks at TSCPL.
“I’ll go through the shelves, and if it says ‘butts,’ ‘farts’ or otherwise, it’s a good candidate,” says Lamb.
The peels of laughter from 3rd-graders are nearly audible.
To get your crude-joke-loving boy (age 8-12) involved in the Guys Read program at TSCPL, bring him to a meeting (first-timers are always welcome, even if they haven’t read the book) on one of the following dates:
May 12, 2-3 p.m.
June 9, 2-3 p.m.
July 14, 2-3 p.m.
Questions? Call Youth Services at TSCPL at (785) 580-4565.online casinoShare