I am on a bit of a blog kick as of late which have all been connected to the same opening line: “When I enter the schools of other teachers wearing my hat of “YA author” to do student assemblies, I am treated to a rare vantage point.”
Today, I want to talk about my aspiration to particularly reach boy readers when I do student assemblies. And my constant wondering of not being exactly sure why so many folks are stumped by the question of, “How do you get a teen boy to read?”
The answer is fairly simple. It’s not rocket science. The answer is… drumroll please… GIVE THEM SOMETHING THEY WANT TO READ!
Here’s a picture of me the other day in South Texas, near the border, at a Title 1 school with a 100% Latino population. (Note: This school had all the challenges: LEP kids, low SES kids, budget cuts, state threats for low test score performance, blah, blah, blah.)
After my assembly at least 50 boys asked for a book. That’s not hyperbole. And being that the school didn’t have but 1 or 2 copies of my books (note: HOMEBOYZ is perennially the title which kids most want to read but since it’s part of a trilogy, it’s kind of like a gateway drug to other books – mine as well as titles by a host of other wonderful authors) these students were bummed.
Like genuinely bummed. I mean, we made sure to bring a few copies to give away but I can only carry like 3 with me when I travel and once I signed those and gave them away, they turned on their VP and clamored for the guy to “hook ‘em up with some books”.
When’s the last time you’ve seen throngs of teenage males seriously asking for books to read?
Fact is, it happens all over America all the time. Problem is, it doesn’t happen enough. Often, we see it in pockets. (Makes me think I need to plug Kelly Gallagher’s READICIDE right now… a great title which explains a ton and will spare me from having to too deeply plumb the topic of why schools are killing reading. Because schools are killing the love of reading. Generally speaking, that is. In other ways though, schools are doing more to promote a love of reading than any other institution in the nation. It’s a complex issue.)
The picture was taken when I was getting ready to leave and a group of guys sabotaged me and, instead of returning to class as they were supposed to do, they insisted that I take a pic with them “as proof”.
Being that I had to get to the airport, and I was also being invited to a Project X type party they were going to be throwing this coming weekend (Dude, you gotta come. It’s gonna be SICK!), I didn’t get to follow up on the notion of “as proof of what”.
- As proof that a group of teen boys actually like to read?
- As proof that the stereotypes about kids like them in this part of Texas weren’t fair or accurate?
- As proof that they got to meet a real live author from California? (My, what low standards right?)
Getting to visit a campus such as this as an author offers proof of many things. I’m just not entirely sure of what.