Thursday, May 5, 2011

Best Books for Boys: A Guide for Giving Boys the Best

I grew up in a mostly female household.  Most days, you could find my sister and I curled up in a cozy chair, reading Ramona, Anne of Green Gables, and all of The Babysitter's Club books.
Fast forward to today. Today I am the only female in my house. Most day, you can find Logan and his brother, Tyson, wrestling near a cozy chair.
But sometimes, we find that moment where we share a book. Sometimes quietly, sometimes laughing loudly, often intently. Why do those magic moments occur? I think it's because sometimes I find that perfect book that connects with the boys. If I could maximize those moments and bring books to my boys that will make them fall in love with reading, that's what I'd do.
Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their LivesPam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives,  helps parents and teachers choose the books that maximize those magical reading moments with their boys.
Pam Allyn, the author of Best Books for Boys, is the executive director of LitLife and LitWorld. She is also the author of one of my favorite titles, What to Read When.
Allyn begins Best Books for Boys by sharing current research. The research she presents comes from national studies. She provides several statistics in a conversational manner.  Allyn is able to describe current studies and "put them together in a way that tells a story about how our boys are doing with reading."
Next, Allyn offers critical elements and tips for reading success. The critical elements include ritual, environment, access, and dialogue (acronym READ). Allyn's thoughts on creating a reading environment for boys was most interesting. She suggests allowing boys to describe or draw a perfect reading environment. The tips really challenged me to think. For instance, why do I think reading should be reading a chapter book? How many people are reading chapter books in their work environment?
The last section of the book is what we are all waiting for... and I think Pam Allyn would allow you to do what I did, I fast forwarded through the book to the annotated best picks for boys. (As long as you promise to go back and read the first parts, too) The books were picked through years of Allyn's hands-on research in the classroom. For certain books there is a "talk about it" section that guides the reader in dialogue. Each book is coded into one of three groups, emerging, developing, maturing. The books are organized by theme.
There are great new books, such as How Rocket Learned to Read, and great old books such as Harold and the Purple Crayon. There are books from the fantasy and imagination section that we added to our library list last month: The Frog Prince Continued and The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkey. There are some of our favorite characters, favorite authors, and favorite books in a section called Learning to Love Reading. Reading that section gave me hope that somedays I might be getting the perfect books for my two boys! There are 130 PAGES listing and describing the best books for boys. I have to admit, I only made it through the emerging lists. I can tell this book will be a ready reference for the future.
Best Books for Boys is available now. If you are a boy, have a boy, teach a boy, buy this book.
I was sent a free advanced review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Even though I don't have a boy, I am intrigued. I used to not believe in gender split, but now I look at certain books and tell myself, "this is definitely a boy book". Sometimes my daughter loves "boy books" if it's about aliens or space or dinosaurs, but she resists anything with violence or conflict.

  2. This sounds like a great book to own as the mother of a son!

  3. I am an Anne fan too! And I agree with Pam when she asks how many of us read novels at work. To me, reading is reading, whether it be comics and captions, magazine articles, ebooks, words on a board game or anything in between.