it just goes on and on and on and on...
- Oct 14, 2015
My aunt had a hell of a time getting my cousin to read, until she tried biographies. He had no interest in fiction, but was really interested in the historical books. This was in the early 90’s, before even Harry Potter was around, which did increase the number of kids fantasy books for good or bad.On the topic of getting boys to read I've lately been wondering exactly what, exactly, they like to read. I've heard a few different perspectives on this: books about other boys their own age, books about men doing things, books about hot women.
1) Like thinking back to myself as a young teen I read Harry Potter, I liked Stephen King (The Talisman, Dark Tower), the Giver, and To Kill a Mockingbird were a handful of my favorites. Thinking back I think the commonality there is most dealt with a young male who was going through the transition of being a vulnerable child to needing to make decisions, do things, standard coming of age stuff. I don't know if this is just my own interest in men's issues making me project this in hindsight, or if these kinds of stories are primarily what appeals to boys.
2) I also remember a lot of my peers being into Dragon Lance, RA Salvatore, and a lot of books I'd have written off as cringy wish fulfillment trash even back then. I didn't like it but clearly that shit does sell. Is this what resonates?
3) Recently had a discussion with a friend, who is writing a story, and he mentioned how he is trying to write something he might've liked as a teenager. Most of the protagonists were women. I expressed a bit of surprise as this as, well, we are in a society that already worships women and most books are now about the experiences of teenaged girls and young women. Then again when I was a kid buffy, firefly, etc. were pretty big and certainly "female action hero" has some level of male appeal.
So I don't know. What makes a book appeal uniquely to boys? There are still plenty of books like (#1) out there, even if they aren't new; I am sure Blizzard is still shitting out ghost-written fan fiction about Varian Wrynn (#2); and almost all new books are about BIPOC teenaged girls succeeding where grown men failed (#3). So what is missing?