—A Great Place to Find Books for Boys

August 13, 2009

I just ran across an interesting Web site that may be useful for  moms (and dads) looking to find good books for boys. It’s called Guys, and it’s got lists for young guys middle guys and older guys. The site has an edgy look, and should further appeal to guys who are looking for books on their own as well as their parents. Here’s Guys Read’s stated mission:

Our mission is to:
1. Make some noise for boys.
We have literacy programs for adults and families. GUYS READ is our chance to call attention to boys’ literacy.
2. Expand our definition of reading.
Include boy-friendly nonfiction, humor, comics, graphic novels, action- adventure, magazines, websites, and newspapers in school reading. Let boys know that all these materials count as reading.
3. Give boys choice.
Motivate guys to want to read by letting them choose texts they will enjoy. Find out what they want. Let them choose from a new, wider range of reading.
4. Encourage male role models.
Men have to step up as role models of literacy. What we do is more important than all we might say.
5. Be realistic. Start small.
Boys aren’t believing that “Reading is wonderful.” Reading is often difficult and boring for them. Let’s start with “Here is one book/magazine/text you might like.”
6. Spread the GUYS READ word.
Encourage people to use the information and downloads on this site to set up their own chapters of GUYS READ, and get people thinking about boys and reading.

The site it run by Jon Scieszka, a former elementary school teacher and author of books that are great for guys to read too, like The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Of course, my girls love those books as well, but good books often transcend gender and appeal to everyone.

While I keep a list of good books for boys here too, with titles recommended by boys, parents and librarians, I love the idea of a site dedicated just to boys. Check it out!

Are You Reading a Hot Dog or Foie Gras?

July 24, 2009

Last week my daughter Madeleine and I headed down to the University of Oregon for her orientation. I’m still not truly believing she’ll be leaving home this fall, but I’m sure I’m not the only mom in denial. In fact, the university caters to us parents about to send our kids into the world, even offering a talk called “Teaching Your Ducklings to Fly.” (It’s also a pretty cute play on words since the U of O mascot is a duck.)

I was very impressed with a seminar for parents only called The Art of Reading. While our children were signing up for fall classes, (parents aren’t even allowed in the room with them) a group of about 15 moms and dads gathered in the library to talk with an English professor about rediscovering how to read for meaning.

I was there with Karen and Janelle, two other moms in my mother-daughter book club, and we happily soaked up some new thoughts on reading. One thought in particular stood out from the day:

Choosing a book and choosing what to eat can be a lot alike. Sometimes you are hungry and you just want to eat a hot dog to fill you up. You don’t need anything fancy, because any food will do at the moment. Those tend to be what I think of as books that you can easily pick up and put down without losing the main thread of the story. They’re usually fun, maybe even a guilty pleasure. Some titles I have read recently in that category include Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley and Runaround by Helen Hemphill. (Reviews to come soon.)

Other times, you’re more in the mood for a four-course gourmet meal. I just finished a book like that called Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears. It was nearly six hundred pages and I savored every page until the very satisfying ending. I’m also finishing up reading Empire by Gore Vidal to Madeleine. History-nerds that we are, we have looked forward to reading it every day, but savored it as we went along. We can’t wait to start reading Vidal’s follow up story, Hollywood. Soon I expect to read The Book Thief to Catherine, another book to linger over and appreciate.

I like applying the food analogy to books, because it helps me enjoy whatever I’m reading for the hunger it satisfies at the moment.

Family Fun Magazine’s A Great Resource

September 4, 2007


I only make recommendations on this site for media that I believe can be truly helpful to your book club group and for parenting in general. Here’s a magazine I use for ideas about things to cook and activities to do with your child or your book club. It’s called Family Fun, and its Web site, is a good companion. It’s great for recipes, and over the years I’ve cooked many selections from the magazine’s pages then served them to my book club members. Shepherd’s pie, bread popovers, broccoli cheese soup…they were all hits. And they’re usually easy to prepare too, since directions are written to make it easy for kids to help out.

My youngest daughter always checks the Family Fun pages and the Web site when she’s trying to decide on a Halloween costume. And I get quite a few helpful ideas that have been submitted by readers, too.

Check it out the next time you need a boost in creativity.