Friday, May 6, 2011

Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys

Growing up in a family of all girls, boys were always a mystery to me. As a teacher, I have had to make a conscious effort to get to know my boys as readers and to build up my classroom library to make sure that I have balance so that there are multiple books that will catch the attention of my varied readers. Through book clubs, conferring during independent reading, and other avenues such as reading response letters, it has been a pleasure to get to know my students as readers and to watch thir interests emerge and grow. Last summer I specifically focused on boys and books for my YA Lit class.

I was thrilled to be able to read a copy of Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives since it focuses on an area of strong interest. Before I started reading the book I looked at Pam Allyn's website and was inspired by the work she has done world wide to advocate for boy readers, LitWorld and LitLife.

Allyn's expertise developed throughout the years of working with boy readers is apparent in the book. She begins by laying a foundation for why it is essential for people to focus on developing a lifelong love of reading for boys, followed by a series of question and answers, which were well thought out, relevant, and closely aligned with my personal teaching philosophy.

The bulk of the book is recommendations for books that will hook boys categorized in a variety of ways, such as: expeditions, humor, mechanics and technology, nature and the animal world, and sports. Each section is further sub-categorized into books for emerging, developing, and maturing readers, categories that Allyn explains along with the need for teachers to consider them in flexible ways. Each book has a brief explanation, while some books have a list of other similar books that students will most likely enjoy which made me think back to Teri Lesesne's Reading Ladders. Select books also have discussion points to get conversations started, as Allyn explains the important role of dialogue in fostering literate lives. After the section of books, Allyn also includes a list of magazines and web sites with notes about their assets.

Throughout Allyn sets the tone that boys need to feel safe and valued as readers, highlighting the importance of working toward helping boys discover who they are as readers. She also mentioned the link to reading impacting students as individuals by noticing the human experience in reading, which I thought Smith and Wilhelm addressed well in their Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements.

Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys is an excellent resource with a wealth of information for parents, educators, and community members who would like to make a difference in the literate lives of boys.

*Electronic review copy provided

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Finally some attention given to boys!With all the technology it's harder than ever to get kids to read.
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