In the UK they’re released a list of books for reluctant to read boys and some people are getting their knickers twisted about it. This fellow says to relax — it’s not about literature, it’s about saving reading.
Children who already love reading don’t need lists, initiatives or even encouragement. They’ll sneak into bookshops and libraries on their own, peering at top shelves and into dusty corners, searching out whatever excites them. By the time that they’re fourteen or fifteen, they’ll already have read The Hobbit, Robinson Crusoe and probably Anna Karenina too. They will have found the pages at which Portnoy’s Complaint and Lady Chatterley’s Lover fall open. They’ll be plunging through manga, science fiction, forgotten classics and all kinds of books that you and I have never even heard of.
This list is for boys who aren’t so confident about reading. They need some suggestions and a bit of encouragement. Thrust a copy of Le Grand Meaulnes in their hands and they’ll run screaming back to the Xbox. Let them start with Calvin & Hobbes or a cartoon version of Kidnapped and they’ll soon be asking for more recommendations.
Way way waaaaaay back in second year, I took a course called something like World of Childhood and I wrote an essay about creating “steps to literature” for reluctant to read boys. I said you should step from comic books with themes similar to where you’d like theÂ boys to end up and work up from there. From X-Men to Dragonlance to Tolkien to “X”, kind-of-thing. The prof loved it and put it in some sort of steel vault archive. This means it’s protected, but unread, which is probably for the best.