This collaborative Wiki, created by a group of students from a section of LIS 506 in the Fall semester of 2011 and 2012, aims to address the many issues that libraries face in creating programs that will appeal to boys. In so doing, it is hoped that their interest in reading and their ability to read will also grow exponentially.

koby & james
Photo by Frank Serritelli


Programming and reading promotion for boys is not necessarily the easiest task which any library can accomplish. The task may become a hurdle in the library field for many reasons. Most people blame competing leisure activities like sports or after school programs, for taking over reading time because boys enjoy being active, whereas reading is not. Current research claims that even publishing trends and the curriculum for literature in schools may be deterring boys from reading. There is also always the saying that that boys struggle more with reading and therefore feel less competent. Sometimes even the parents may be to blame.

It is conceivable that the largest hurdle that libraries must overcome can occur before a child is even born: do the parents themselves read? Any library that wishes to tackle the issue of promoting reading with children must also tackle the issue of promoting reading with the parents. The parents who see the value of reading will be the ones who bring their children to infant, toddler, and early childhood programs at their local library; and these same parents will most likely continue to bring their children to that same library to obtain books as the children grow older.

What happens when boys grow older? The National Center for Educational Statistics consistently confirms in its annual National Report Card that American fourth grade students tend to read quite well compared to their peers in other countries, but this same fact does not hold true in eighth grade or twelfth grade. However, even within the country, the fourth grade boys are not up to speed in reading compared to the girls. Already in fourth grade boys are behind by five points on national reading assessments. By eighth grade, the scores drop another five points (The Boys Initiative). So what happened between fourth and eighth grade?

Any casual observer will note that the time demands placed on students from fifth grade on are going to cut into students' time for recreational reading. Competitive sports often begin in fifth or sixth grade, and the demands for practice can be quite grueling--often tending toward an hour and a half or two hours per day. Sports competitions--track meets, softball and baseball games, and basketball tournaments--can often run for hours. Library programming often does not stand a chance of competing with the other leisure-time pursuits afforded to boys after school.

In order to successfully promote reading for a male target audience, it is necessary to consider both fiction and non-fiction resources. There is undoubtedly a world full of knowledge that boys would like to accumulate, and skills that they would like to learn, but they do not always recognize that their learning easily can be facilitated with the right texts. Any library that sets out to program for boys should consider all possible fiction and non-fiction text sources.

“If you ask most people who are readers, you typically hear one of two major conditions: They had a parent or teacher or librarian who read aloud to them, or books were available around the home and collections were augmented by frequent, lengthy visits to a library” (“Where the boys are,” 2003). The role and impact of the librarian in a young adult’s live can be immeasurable. Children and young adults need to have a positive reading influence in their lives. Having a greater understanding for reading will improve a child’s self-perception for the better (Brozo, 2002). So when boys perceive themselves as improved readers the task of reading will become a pleasure and thus will engage in a lifetime of reading possibilities. Librarians need to encourage boys to read and to do this the librarian will need to be willing to conduct research, develop and try new programs, and to prepare additional promotions for the library.

Important Terms

  • Literacy-Literacy is the ability to read, write, and interpret printed information. There are still middle schools and high schools that do not have reading and literacy classes for students and those that do still find it difficult to help students achieve the literacy skills they need. “Students who enter middle school reading two or more grade levels below their current grade need special attention from a reading specialist and support from their content teachers if they are to comprehend the texts they are reading and progress on the reading continuum” (Rojtas-Milliner, 2010).

  • Graphic Novel- Graphic novel is a generic and all-encompassing term for the different varieties of comics that are bound like books (Labio, 2011).

  • YALSA-YALSA stands for Young Adult Library Services Organization. This organization is a division from ALA (American Library Association). Their mission "is to expand and strengthen library services for teens, aged 12-18” (YALSA, 2011).

  • Young Adult-Young Adult or YA is fiction or nonfiction targeted directly towards teenagers and preteens (Benedetti, 2011).

  • Programming-Programs are the events, clubs, and services offered by the library. Typically library programming is aimed toward the improvement of reading ability and lifelong learning (Kargbo, 2007).

  • Promotion-Promotion is the communication between the library and the patron. It can take place through the use of blogs, newsletters, posters, flyers, displays, and special events (Flowers, 2008).

  • The National Center for Educational Statistics - the purpose of the NCES is to fulfill a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education. This information is compiled to create the National Assessment of Education Progress (i.e. the National Report Card). Mainly congress, federal, educational agencies and education organizations use the statistics for research or as for support for educational projects (NCES).

PAWS to Read

Susan Ujka Larson Collection

Theoretical Concerns or Problems

Have you ever heard of a reading promotion program for girls? Probably not, because when it comes to reading girls in general have a more positive attitude than boys. Boys have long maintained significantly lower reading scores in the education realm, with the gender gap increasing with age. Across the globe, the education of today’s boys has been declared as in a state of crisis. Studies show that girls have higher vocabularies, better information search skills, and are better able to identify character and stylistic devices. Thus, girls have several advantages when it comes to reading. Programming and reading promotion for boys is often difficult because “the male brain is better suited for symbols, abstractions, diagrams, pictures, and objects moving through space than for the monotony of words” (Tilley and Callison 33-35). As the library and education fields largely consist of women, successful boys' programming can be especially challenging simply because of the difference in gender. Females typically enjoy collaboration, whereas males are more competitive.

‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍Why Are Boys Not Reading?‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍

Librarians may wonder why boys are not reading and utilizing the library. The answer is NOT that boys do not like to read. Actually boys may not like to read the books that their library offers. Research has found that the majority of boys do not enjoy reading fiction novels best (“Overcoming the obstacle course,” 2003). This may be because most fiction today does not target boys. Reading and library science has been dominated by females for a long time, so it only makes sense that the publishing industry is targeting females, which creates a major issue - there are just not enough boy books out there, as Nicolle points out in his article, "Boys and the Five-year Void. (Nicolle 130). If you take a look at current publishing trends in fiction, you will see that a lot of fiction covers female interests such as gossip, means girls, and a current popular trend is vampires with teenage angst. These types of novels seem to be very emotional, and as Jon Sciezska said in his Guys Read website, "boys don't feel comfortable exploring the emotions and feelings found in fiction..." Ultimately, in the fiction world, the boy books are becoming over inhabited by female driven works.

Boys prefer to read more information-driven texts like hobbies and sports magazines, comics, humor, and science fiction novels. In the average young adult section of the library the patron will find an overwhelming majority of fiction novels and a small percentage devoted to magazines, comics, humor, and science fiction novels. But on closer inspection of the magazines many of them will pertain to celebrity gossip and not sports or auto magazines.

Aside from female driven fiction, some would agree that the literature curriculum in schools may also be to blame for deterring boys from reading. One teacher from Fort Kent Community High School explained that the reading lists in classes (believe it or not) are sexist and target girls more than boys (Kevin St. Jarre 15).If boys are given books like Go Ask Alice, or Sarah, Plain and Tall or even Romeo and Juliet, that of course they are going to become disinterested in their reading. Some school districts have already proposed the idea for teachers to start providing more alternative reading options for boys to read in class, maybe more teachers just need to get on board with the idea.

Also, the young adult section of the library might not be visually appealing to boys. Boys like to browse through books easily and are attracted to catchy cover art. Often the young adult section of the library is undersized and the materials are jammed into every spare spot to house all of the material. This does not cater to easy browsing.

So, what reasons do boys give for not reading? According to a survey done by YALSA, 39% of the boys surveyed said that reading was “boring [and] not fun” (“Overcoming the obstacle course,” 2003). This answer of reading not being fun is a charge to all librarians to prove to young adult males that reading is not boring. To begin, librarians can conduct a survey within the local community to see where the boys’ interests lie. Then collections and programs can be developed to entice boys into the library and discover that reading can be fun.

Boys and Reading

According to Sullivan, "...boys and books may seem at times to be oil and water; the two just do not mix" (vii). He points out that "what they read, how they read, why they read, how they relate to reading and those who help them read" all play a role in effective reading promotion. Most boys would rather read a plot-driven book with adventure and action than an intensely reflective book. You can’t hand a boy a novel with a female protagonist and expect him to identify. Successful all-guys book clubs have that found book selection is key (Lingo 24). “For many adolescent boys, their developing masculine identities seem to conflict with school-based literacy” (25). One overarching problem of reading promotion and programming for boys is that reading is not often viewed as a competitive sport (27).

It is important to recognize that connecting boys to reading is broader than connecting them to books. Boys tend to read more nonlinearly, preferring text which "does not flow as continuously for the length of a book" (Sullivan). Rather than books, they may actually be reading newspapers, magazines, game manuals, webpages, comic books, and catalogs. At least some of these materials are not traditionally found in libraries, and may not be considered "real reading" by teachers, librarians, or other adults who are interested in the reading habits of boys. Yet in reading magazines, newspapers, and webpages, they are following the patterns they may observe in adult males as well.

In a review of over 10,000 free reading choices by children in first through sixth grade, Doiron found a major difference between boys and girls (15). Boys selected 2/3 of the nonfiction books that were checked out during the study (15). While girls selected fiction three times more than nonfiction, boys were only 1.3 times more likely to select fiction over nonfiction (15). As boys tend to have a worldview that is more external, nonfiction materials can help them make sense of the world. Again, when considering role models, they are more likely to see men reading nonfiction.

What about books? While every boy must be considered as an individual, there are some characteristics which boys prefer in general. These include:

  • Main characters who are boys
  • Male authors
  • Plot over character development
  • Writing that is more literal and explicit, rather than full of imagery and metaphors
  • Edgy subjects and tone
  • Lots of action
  • Big themes
  • "Bigness" (Something that makes the book unique)

In addition, when it does come to reading fiction, boys may respond positively to shorter works, as they are less interested in long periods of reading, and finishing a short book may appeal to a boy's sense of accomplishment. (However, a longer, fast-moving plot may still trump length of book.)

In Roger Sutton's article "Go Big or Go Home", he seems to think otherwise about the length of a book becoming a deterrent to boys. He claims that a longer work like Harry Potter can actually be attractive because of its "bigness", or something that makes the book really standout. He claims that anything that is "big" about a book can become attractive to boys. He lists several examples of books that target towards boys that demonstrate this "bigness", such as the length in Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, an elaborate plot in Holes by Louis Sachar, or big ideas, like in Frindle by Andrew Clements where a boy wishes to create a new word and succeeds (Sutton 31 & 33).

Sutton also mentions that if a book has a girl as a main character, that the book does not automatically become a deterrent for boy readers; it is in fact, ok to have a girl as a main character. He gives the example of how Hermione never seemed to be a deterrent for boys to pick up the Harry Potter series. He further states that so long as the books are not filled with emotions that cause drama by the girls as main characters that having girls as a main character does not seem to be a problem (Sutton 33). The fact that there are two other main characters as boys in Harry Potter probably also helped balance out the female presence in the novels.

African-American Boys, Low-Income Children, and Reading
Studies of gaps in early literacy must be discussed in conversations about African-American males and reading. As Husband (2012) states, “Black boys are unique in that they’re in two groups that have historically underachieved in reading—boys and blacks” (p. 24). Black boys generally have the worst scores on national reading assessments in comparison to all of their peers—male and female. Many young Black males do not read available texts because the texts are not socially and culturally relevant and authentic (Husband, 2012). Making adequate amounts of multicultural and urban literature available in classrooms and libraries will help to ensure that Black males will find books of interest.

Other factors contributing to reading underachievement include teachers not adapting their curriculum to meet the needs of Black males, teachers holding low expectations and negative views toward them, and disproportionate disciplinary actions by administrators that tend to remove Black males from the classroom (Husband, 2012). Also, urban students are often more concerned with their safety and survival in poor neighborhoods than on their education (Tatum, 2006). In this particular situation, urban or “street” literature that students may be able to relate to can be introduced and possibly open the door to reading other texts. In Kirkland’s (2011) study, Black males in an eleventh grade English class expressed great disinterest in the classic literature being taught and one student said he wanted to read texts he could identify with. Countless studies have shown that youth are more interested to read books they select themselves. In addition, culturally conscious books have been found to significantly increase reading proficiency since students gain more interest in the texts (Taylor, 1997). Also of importance, as Tatum (2006) noted, “African American male students often exhibit various cultural-specific coping mechanisms—such behaviors as acting tough, failing to retreat from violence, avoiding self-disclosure, and dissociating from school” (p.25). For those who come across such Black males, especially for teachers and librarians, it is important to be knowledgeable and understanding of their behavior, lives, and culture in order to best serve them.

A study by Hart and Risley (2003) found that vocabulary size and frequency of language usage decreases with income, further widening literacy gaps. African-Americans are among groups most negatively affected by this gap as there is a 30 million word gap by age three. In comparison to their high-income peers, children from low-income backgrounds know half as many words by age three (Newman & Kratochwill, 2012).This finding has since been debated a bit as some slang words used by Blacks may not be validated in such studies, ignoring cultural contexts. However, Hart and Risley’s predictions of language achievement of third graders whom they had studied as infants and toddlers were accurate. Children from the low-income backgrounds did not do as well on the researchers’ language assessments as their counterparts.

Early literacy programs are extremely important in helping low-income children to catch up to their peers academically, especially in reading and writing, as the effects of the language gap are long lasting. Many low-income parents are not aware of this early language gap or what they can do to help their children learn, and thus depend greatly on school systems to educate their children. Also, as researcher Amy Booth explained, “Parents who are under economically stressed circumstances have less resources available to them. They also have less time available to them, because they might be working multiple jobs, so they don’t have the luxury of spending the same amount of time with their children, interacting with them” (Newman & Kratochwill, 2012).

It is also important to note that cultural differences tend to cause Black children to not be as receptive to teaching styles and strategies commonly used by white teachers. Black students often expect those in authority to be direct and commanding and white teachers often are not. Lisa Delpit’s 1988 essay “The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children” was highly acclaimed for pointing this out. Following it in 1995 came the book Other People’s Children. As Husband (2012) noted, “Many researchers have pointed out that Black students in general benefit more often from instructional activities that are highly stimulating, active, and arousing than from lectures and teacher-centered activities where they function as passive receptacles of information.” In considering literature and programming for African-American males, consider the experiences of youth in the neighborhoods you serve, find authentic socially and culturally relevant texts, and tailor programs based on their interests and needs.

Guy Reads - Shelf 1

Practical Advice for Librarians and Examples


As with any new addition to the library it is important to promote the new material, whether by displays or book talks. Displays can be created by making a bulletin board promoting a new set of books or an appealing genre. In a school environment promote books by placing flyers or posters in areas in which boys would enter. Some places that could be utilized would be the gym locker room, restroom stalls, and hallways by lockers. An example of this would be garnering jokes from joke books or making a book promotion flyer and placing it on the door of the stall. Boys would be surprised and find the situation of finding book promotion flyers located in the restroom or gym humorous. This would generate a lot of talk for the library and interest. Another option would be to hold book trivia weekly/monthly and for students who answer the questions correctly receive a paperback book, bookmark, or other library giveaway. Young adults love competition and the opportunity to win prizes. Librarians could create book trailers or other book promotional videos and place them either on the school website or the public library website.

How to Find or Create Promotional Materials

Book Trailers

  • To create a new book trailer find a suitable means of video recording whether it is a PowerPoint with sound, Windows MovieMaker, YouTube, ScreenFlow, and iMovie.

Book Talks

  • Suggestions for book talks: hook (attention-getter), becoming a character, dramatic reading from the book, perform a skit, wear a costume or use a prop. Also, remember it is important to bring in someone that the audience can identify with. When preparing a book talk it is important to keep in mind the age of the audience and what they find interesting.

Paper Goods

Collection Development--offer materials boys love

Given boys' reading preferences, librarians should be intentional about including magazines, graphic novels, and audiobooks in the collection. According to Sullivan, when it comes to fiction, because boys are often more interested in plot over character development, they may enjoy certain genres over novels in general, such as:

  • Humor--the more extreme the better
  • Science fiction and fantasy--often action-packed and involving a heroic quest
  • Action and adventure--including nature or war books which present a struggle
  • Sports--can be more identifiably male, compared to reading in general
  • Gothic horror--raises questions around the nature of evil and violence
  • Manga--as well as other forms of graphic novels (see more below)
  • Mystery--plot-driven works

Horton (31) suggets selecting books "that appeal to students--not books that adults read as youngsters or award-winning books." Guys Read offers a "virtual vault" of books, created by author Jon Scieszka, who believes that if you find the right stories, boys will read (Scieszka). Sullivan's Readers' Advisory for Boys also offers numerous lists of books, based on age, genre, readalikes, etc.

Graphic novels

Research in collection development shows that there is one format that covers a variety of genres, addresses current issues for teens, stimulates young people’s imaginations, and engages reluctant readers: graphic novels - Sandy Andera

Graphic novels are always a popular choice to add to a new collection. A number of boys may have a preconceived notion of what graphic novels are. For instance patrons, not only boys, might believe that graphic novels are just like DC comics that contain Superman and Batman. It is important for the librarian to educate the patrons of the library on what graphic novels are and that Superman is just one facet of a much larger collection. So when adding graphic novels it is important to purchase a wide variety of genres that would appeal to the majority of young adult males. Instead of just purchasing adventure graphic novels it would better benefit the users to also include science fiction, fantasy, sports, humor, horror and mystery. Boys will discover that there is more than just one “type” of graphic novel and will able to appreciate the depth to which graphic novels can take them. Graphic novels can turn students and adults into recreational readers.

Graphic Novel Collection Ideas

Bone Series by Jeff Smith
- A ten-time Eisner Award winning series of dark comedy and fantasy about the Bone cousins and their epic quest to save the world. Series focuses on three cousins and their adventures after being kicked out of town. This series is a combination of comedy, adventure, action, and fantasy all with a host of characters and plot arcs and should appeal to multiple audiences.

The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé
-Story of a boy, Tintin, and his dog, Snowy, and their adventures all over the world. Tintin is a reporter and a detective and with his dog their mysteries and quests leave readers always wanting more.

Amelia Rules by Jimmy Gownley
-Amelia is a typical student who has every day problems. Her crazy friends and family will have readers rooting for Amelia.

The Dodgeball Chronicles by Frank Cammuso
-Follow Artie King through his crazy middle school years with this updated King Arthur and Camelot theme.

Magic Pickle by Scott Morse
-Magic Pickle’s mission is to save the world from rotten evil vegetables. This graphic novel is known for its humorous storyline and lessons about courage.

Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton
-A journalist mouse who goes on adventures with his family and writes bestsellers about them.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
- An unpopular middle school student struggles through the ups and downs of everyday life, facing challenges with his peers, siblings, parents, and teachers.

Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey
- Fourth graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins hypnotize their crappy principal and turn him into their own comic-book superhero: Captain Underpants. The series is frequently challenged in libraries but has also won many awards and positive reviews.

Squish Series by Jennifer and Matt Holm
-The tale of a comic-book loving amoeba named Squish who experiences the trials and tribulations of regular adolescence: school, family, friends, and bullies. When not defending himself against the Leeches Suqish can be seen probing thought-provoking questions such as what makes cafeteria so delicious. A fun and goofy book for younger boys looking for an easy read.

Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi
-This complex fantasy series centeres around Emily and her brother Navin. Emily soon discovers that she is a Stonekeeper, in charge of a magical stone. This series relies on cliffhangers and attentive reading, as there are multiple layers and plot arcs throughout each volume.

Flight Series edited by Kazu Kibuishi
-A visually-stunning series from multiple artists and authors (the average age of which is only 24) centers around the often boy-friendly idea of flight and engineering. Each volume contains multiple short stories that are able to capture the attention of even the most reluctant of readers.

Reading Promotion with Video Games

With children being introduced to technology at younger ages now, more and more kids are playing video games, or games on the computer. Besides competing leisure activities like sports or after school programs, now the libraries and books have to compete with kids playing computer or video games instead of reading. Most parents would agree that amongst this group of children spending too much time on their computers or consoles, it is the boys that are dominating and notorious for playing video games. In fact, "For every 100 tenth grade girls who play video or computer games one or more hours per day, 322 boys play video or computer games on or more hours per day" (NCES, "Digest"). How can libraries and books compete for these boys attention?

One way is to make reading more interactive, including making games out of reading. Scholastic, one of the largest publisher of children's books agreed to do just that. Scholastic has created a series called "The 39 clues" which is linked to a web based game, where kids have to read the books in order to be able to play the game (Berman). Reading promotion with video games could be a unique, alternative way to get reluctant boy readers who would rather play video games, to be reading again and coming back into the library.


When some librarians hear the word programming they believe that developing a new program would be too costly and the library would be unable to afford it. Some large scale new programming could be expensive, but there are several low cost services and clubs that can be offered at the library. Whatever program is added specifically for boys, they need to feel that it is theirs and they own it. One way that libraries can bring in boys is to ask for boy volunteers and provide them with a set of tasks that can be performed on a weekly basis and then offer refreshment. Having food in a library is a must according to Mike McQueen from the Getting Boys to Read website (more information provided below in Online Resources), because eating makes boys feel more at ease and will give the library a more relaxed atmosphere.

Low Cost Programming Ideas

  • Teen Advisory Board- A teen advisory board could meet weekly and discuss possible events and ideas for the library. This board will provide great insight into what the current interests and trends are for the local teens
  • Poetry Slam-Poetry Slams provide teens with the opportunity to perform and recite original poems. Youth Speaks ( is a great resource to learn more about poetry slams.
  • Chess-Purchase a few chess sets, provide instructions on the rules, and allow students to come in and play chess. A chess club could be initiated once there was enough interest.
  • Library Club-Conduct a survey or talk to the Teen Advisory Board and discover what issues teens are interested in and develop a club to debate the topic. A library club could also discuss what books members are reading and what upcoming books they want to read.

Successful Programming in Libraries--Think Like Guys Think

Rather than more traditional linguistic-focused programs, libraries can attract boys with activities that involve logic, music, visuals, and movement. In Worthington, Ohio youth librarians intentionally develop programs that incorporate multiple intelligences, to make them more enjoyable for boys (Brown & Meyers 4-8). BookTrek focuses on different countries, appealing to boys' interest in nonfiction information through stories, food, games, music, and other activities that are related to the country being highlighted. Bookopoly utilizes a life-sized board game and boys move from square to square by answering book trivia and completing physical challenges that are somehow related to the book.

A Lego club has been in effect since 2008 in the Radnor Memorial Library and it has brought great enthusiasm. “Promoting play contributes to early literacy development by increasing attention span, memory, creativity, and language and vocabulary skills” (Klebanoff, 2009). In less than a year the library’s membership doubled. The club meets once a month and each meeting has a theme. The librarians use this them to create book displays and each month three-quarters of the books on the theme are checked out.

In Florida's Indian Trails Middle School library, boys are participating in a club called The Wild Mustangs. The boys in this club meet weekly and discuss what they have read or are reading and they develop projects that promote reading in the school. One of their plans for the school was “15 Minutes a Day Earns You Time to Play” (Buddy, 2011). This project encourages students to read for fifteen minutes per day and that will entitle them to partake in a sports activity.

Young elementary boys in Ardsley Concord Road Elementary School in New York are joining the “Males Who Read and Write” club. Boys in this club are given the opportunity to read and write on any subject of their selection. To date the school has found that boys who participate in this club improve their behavior skills and discipline problems are radically decreased (Buddy, 2011).

At Hamilton Middle School Library the librarian has had monumental success with school wide reading contests. One such contest was held and students gained donations for the amount of hours they read. Students were encouraged to bring items that would make them comfortable during reading like pillows and blankets. The Read-A-Thon lasted for eight hours and more than 95 percent of the students completed the contest. At the end of the contest students were entered into a raffle and won prizes like computers (Cox, 2010).

Programs can be designed to appeal to boys' love for competition. At Whitman Middle School in Seattle, Washington, the librarian was surprised to realize that boys represented only 28% of the participants in the annual reading promotion program (Gustafson 16). In an effort to support the school's efforts to raise reading scores for boys, she warily followed her husband's advice to "think like guys think" and created a competition between boys and girls, posting weekly progress in reading and offering monthly prizes throughout the year. As a result, male participation jumped to 49% of the participants (17).

New York youth services librarian Christine Welldon experienced a great deal of success with her Cool Guys Reading Club program. The group appeals to a sense of competition by structuring the club similarly to a karate class, in which the boys were awarded certain colored ‘belts’ by completing challenges given to them. Welldon incorporated readers’ advisor as well as demonstration of research skills into questions which the boys could answer in order to advance to the coveted ‘Black Belt Pizza Party.’ Each boy who continues to participate eventually receives their black belt so no one feels left out or frustrated. Concerning her program Welldon said: “Boys who never voluntarily checked out books were suddenly reading intently in the library. They were having enthusiastic discussions about the books or magazines. Their listeners would then tell them about similar books or articles that they had read. As soon as the boys became used to the format, engaging discussions took place, I watched from the sidelines, out of sight, clipboard in hand, as I checked off names. This club is a boys' club, after all!” (Welldon, 2005).

Role models--help boys see themselves as readers

Librarians can play a role in identifying and presenting adult male readers whom boys respect. Fathers and male teachers can read to students of all ages, and talk about books they enjoyed reading in their youth. Reading groups can take on a new twist, such as a father-son "Books and Balls" club, where dads discuss books and then play ball together (Maughan 41).

In conjunction with the 15th Annual African-American Read-in Chain sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English, local barbers in Memphis participated in a program called "Boys Booked on Barbershops" (Books 'n Barbers 18). B-Bop was developed to encourage boys to read by creating reading nooks in the barbershops, traditionally male enclaves.

Using his own childhood experiences as a reluctant reader and rabid football (soccer) fan, Tom Palmer developed the Premier League Reading Stars program in the UK, where he is a Reader Development Consultant (Palmer 79-80). As part of the program, one football player from each of the league's twenty clubs recommends a book. In addition, football teams partner with local libraries, offering tours of their stadiums, opportunities to meet the players, and prizes such as books and match tickets. Feedback was given and 97% of children say they will read more regularly as a result of doing the program. Palmer suggests activities like raffles, coloring contests, sports quizzes, and similar engaging actives provide boys with competitive fun and act as a catalyst for fun in the library environment. These activities coupled with an active readers’ advisory geared towards boys saw a rise in boy’s desire to read as well as associating reading with doing well in school (Palmer, 2008).

For one high school in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, the male students who were reluctant readers didn't need a mentor to physically work with them to encourage reading, they needed to see that their mentors read themselves, on their own time. Media Specialist Tori Jensen came up with the brilliant idea to create promotional reading posters of men in their school and community pictured with their favorite book and the slogan, "Real Men Read," with the hopes that the boys in the school would notice (Whelan). The boys more than noticed the posters.

The posters were so successful in promoting reading and catching the attention of the boys that Tori Jensen's circulation increassed from 122 to 432 books. But the men didn't just have to pose for a picture, they made class visits, gave book talks and contributed in a "Real Man" blog (Whelan).

Real Men Read! Tori Jensen's Real Men Read Posters

Online Resources

Information Regarding Boys and Literacy
Author Jon Scieszka has created a website devoted to encouraging boys to read by highlighting books that will interest them. The website includes a comprehensive list of books, as well as resources about boys and literacy.
Molly Meyers and Amy Brown, youth librarians at Worthington Libraries in Worthington, Ohio, have designed programs around Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. On this wiki, Meyers and Brown have posted detailed program descriptions for BookTrek and Bookopoly, which have been especially popular with boys, as well as their rationale for using multiple intelligence theory.
Mike McQueen is a teacher and librarian whose website includes articles, editorials, links, and suggestions to educate professionals about boys and literacy.
Rose Mary Honnold, editor in chief of VOYA magazine, has created a website in which she has five online books with the theme of Library Programming for Teens.
This online book was compiled by YALSA and it contains case studies, resources, advocacy information, and practical applications for libraries.
This blog has programming ideas for boys and girls, provides examples of materials, and has pictures of the library programs.
National Center for Education Statistics.
A government website devoted to collecting and analyzing educational statistics so that government officials, educational agencies or organizations and the general public can use the information to conduct research or use the statistics to back funding for educational purposes.
The Boys Initiative.
This website is dedicated to promoting achievement and health for boys. It provides many statistics on education achievement for boys.
The is a really cool website that targets boys and is all about boys and reading. It explains the literacy challenge, talks about what can be done about the issue, has a blog for male readers and it also has a really good resources page for statistics and information on reading promotion for boys.

A continually growing list of books that are appealing to boys. Provided for each book is a summary, cover art, page length, and age suggestions.
Booklist created by Parents Choice, in which books are separated by genre.
This booklist is separated by grade level.
Scholastic provides a suggested reading list for boys in 6th through 8th grades.
Good Reads provides a list of over 500 books that would appeal to teen boys.
This booklist focuses heavily on the fantasy genre.
Booklist created by the Santa Clara County Library for teenage boys.
List generated by Skokie Public Library for boys.
A list created by University of Michigan Professor of Education Raymond P. Kettel. Uses key to categorize books by grade level and genre
A website created by a UIUC graduate for the purposes of reviewing manga, comics, and graphic novels for young adults. Can be used to help collection development for boys.

Hughes-Hassell, S., Rawson, C. H., McCracken, L., Leonard, M. G., Cunningham, H., Vance, K. J., & Boone, J. (2012). Librarians form a bridge of books to advance literacy. Phi Delta Kappan, 93 (5), 17-22.
Really great booklist for Black males in elementary school through high school located within the article.

"A group of school librarians enlisted in an effort to raise literacy among black males by reaching out to them with books and programs aligned with their interests and culture."

Print Resources

Berman, John. "Video Games to Get Kids Reading." ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. (Dec. 2008).
This article proposes the interesting idea that instead of reading and video games competing against each other for kids' attention, that there is a way that reading and video games can go hand-in-hand. Scholastic has came up with a series called "The 39 clues" in which kids have to read the books in order to play the video game.
Brehm-Heeger, P. (2008). Serving Urban Teens. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Serving Urban Teens is a guide which gives ideas on how to provide services, décor in the library, programming proposals, and promotion goals to best serve teens that live in an urban area.
Lingo, Sandra. "The All Guys Book Club: Where Boys Take the Risk to Read." Library Media Connection 25.7 (2007): 24-28. Print.
Practical advice for starting and maintaining a book club for middle school boys. Includes step-by-step planning guide, guys book club title selections by grade level, and an examination of some of the key factors that keep boys from reading, as well as strategies for selecting books that engage boys and keep them wanting to read.
Nicolle, Ray. (1989, March). Boys and Five-year Void. School Library Journal. p. 130
In Ray's article he blames the librarian field for being dominated by females, which causes (in his opinion) librarians to be blinded by their female points of view, thus preventing them from meeting the needs of the male reader population. He recounts his own reading experiences how he never was able to find anything to read in his school library, so he turned to comics for his reading.
Rockefeller, Elsworth, and Rollie Welch. "Bringing Guys to the Library." Voice of Youth Advocates 32.6 (2010): 480-81. Print.
Insight into strategies and program ideas for bringing guys into the library, taking into consideration teen behavior and adult assumptions of teenagers. Includes a look at recent titles with tough, action-packed, guy appeal.
Scieszka, J. (2005). Guys write for guys read: Boys' favorite authors write about being boys . New York: Penguin Group.
This book contains short stories written by male authors about their boyhood. Some of the contributing authors are Walter Dean Myers, Chris Crutcher, Avi, Brian Jacques, Dav Pilkey, Stephen King, Daniel Pinkwater, Jerry Spinelli, and Will Hobbs. Over 80 authors and illustrators contributed stories and comments for this book. Along with the authors or illustrators’ stories are their bibliographies.
St. Jarre, Kevin. R. (2008, Jan.) Don't Blame the Boys: We're Giving Them Girly Books. English Journal, 97(3), 15-16.
From the perspective of a male teacher, Kevin has noticed that readings lists in schools English literature curriculum may be sexist, targeting mainly girls. Kevin explains the nature of how reluctant readers are developed in a certain gender from the school curriculum, by reversing the roles of reluctant boy readers with girls, explaining that if literature curriculum were about automotive repair or adventure novels with no development that some girls might embrace the change, but most would become uninterested in reading.
Sullivan, Michael. Serving Boys Through Readers' Advisory. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010. Print.
Sullivan compares the worldviews of boys and girls, and offers insight into the kinds of reading materials that appeal to boys and why. This book includes book talk descriptions of titles for elementary, middle, and high school boys. In addition, there are lists of books by genre, readalike lists, authors who write for boys, and a list entitled "If your first thought is" which suggets contemporary alternatives to traditional titles for boys.
Sullivan, M. (2003). Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries Can Do. Chicago: ALA.
Sullivan views why boys are having difficulties with reading and what librarians can do to help. This book provides information, statistics and program ideas that would entice young adult males to read.
Sutton, Roger. (2010). Boy Books: Go Big or Go Home. Horn Book Magazine, 86(5), 29-35.
Sutton lists examples of books that "Go Big", by having lengthy stories, elaborate plots, big ideas or something that makes the book standout. He explains how books that "Go Big" can become attractive to boys and why they get boys to pick up these types of books.
Welch, R. (2007). The Guy-Friendly YA Library: Serving Male Teens. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
This guide gives data and information regarding young adult boys reading behaviors. Also included in this book are practical applications concerning collection development, displays, programming, policies, and services that could be established to make the Young Adult section of the library become more “guy friendly.”
Whelan, Debra L. "Real Men Read at MN High School." School Library Journal. (Dec 2008).
This article tells the story of one library media specialist, Tori Jensen at a high school in Minnesota whose hard work to promote reading to boys, more than paid off. The article tells of her success story creating posters of real men in their community and at the high school who enjoyed reading in their spare time being pictured on a poster with their favorite book and the slogan "Real Men Read."


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The Boys Initiative. "Educational Achievement." 23 Nov. 2012. <>

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Brown, Amy and Molly Meyers. "Bringing in the Boys." Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children 6.1 (2008): 4-9. Web. EBSCO.

Brozo, W. (2002). To be a boy, to be a reader: Engaging teen and preteen boys in active literacy. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Buddy, J. (2011). Connecting Males and Reading. School Library Monthly, 28(2), 11-13.

Cox, H. (2010). Boy Story. School Library Journal, 56(9), 26-29.

Delpit, L. D. (1988). The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people's children. Harvard Educational Review, 58(3), 280-298.

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Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (2003). The early catastrophe: The 30 million word gap by age 3. American Educator, 27(1), 4-9.

Hopson, L. (2009). "Boys into books": Working wonders in Doncaster. The School Librarian, 57(3), 137-138.

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Kirkland, D. E. (2011). Books like clothes: Engaging young black men with reading. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(3), 199-208.

Klebanoff, A. (2009). Block party. School Library Journal, 55(7), 24-26.

Labio, C. (2011). What's in a Name? The Academic Study of Comics and the "Graphic Novel.". Cinema Journal, 50(3), 123-126.

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Maughan, Shannon. "You Go, Guys." Publishers Weekly 248.19 (2001): 41. Web. EBSCO.

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(2003). "Overcoming the obstacle course: teenage boys and reading." Teacher Librarian, 30(3), 9-13.

Palmer, Tom. "Reading the Game: Using Sport to Encourage Boys and Men to Read More." Aplis 21.2 (2008): 78-83. Web. EBSCO.

Rojtas-Milliner, M. (2010). Reading Skills--What School Librarians Need to Know. School Library Monthly, 26(6), 50-52.

Scieszka, Jon. Guys Read. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.

Scieszka, J. (2005). Guys write for guys read: Boys' favorite authors write about being boys . New York: Penguin Group.

St. Jarre, Kevin. R. (2008, Jan.) Don't Blame the Boys: We're Giving Them Girly Books. English Journal, 97(3), 15-16.

Sullivan, M. (2009). Book groups the way boys like 'em. American Libraries, 40(5), 46-48.

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Sullivan, Michael. Serving Boys Through Readers' Advisory. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010. Print.

Sutton, Roger. (2010). Boy Books: Go Big or Go Home. Horn ​Book Magazine.​ 86(5), 29-35. Print.

Tatum, A. (2006). Engaging African American males in reading. Educational Leadership, 63(5), 44-49.

Taylor, G. S. (1997). Multicultural literature preferences of low ability African American and Hispanic American fifth graders. Reading Improvement, 34 (1), 37-48.

Tilley, Carol L., and Daniel Callison. "Gender." School Library Media Activities Monthly 21.10 (2005): 33-36. Print.

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