Boys boys boys, we love them, we love them

SLJ has a report up on a library’s attempt to lure more boy readers. Lots of good comments over there; I’ll only add two observations and one plug. Observation #1: it’s funny how in this field you can’t say anything about the needs of male readers without getting people het up about the needs of girls. #2: It sounds to me like this library had missed the rather easier first step of unbuttoning its selection policy a bit. Plug: we’ve got an article in the upcoming May issue about girl books for boys.

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.


  1. Interesting. I don’t have a problem with The Cave–I think it’s pretty cool–except for the “It’s a Guy Thing” label. I would have tried to convey the same idea, but not actually label it a “Guy Thing.” (I don’t have issues with boy-only book clubs or anything like that, but the labeling thing gives me pause). Don’t ask me what I would have labeled it, though. Hope the librarian sees the “girl books for boys” article–I’m definitely looking forward to it!

  2. Heh. I was just thinking about whether Observation #1 cuts both ways, and looked at the wikipedia article for what is now Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day:

    Robert Bly suggested that fathers take their sons to the library and show them the books they love. Noting that women have often been excluded from the work world, Bly said, “I think it’s just as likely now that men will be shut out of the inward world, the literature world.”

  3. As a boy, I didn’t like reading even though my father published over 70 books. Most of my life has been involved in the production of films, TV commercials, and video programs. Many of these were for children. Girls would watch and enjoy any of these films, but boys were not interested in stories about girls. I adopted this same template with the action-adventure and mystery books I write for children today. My primary interest was in reaching out to boys like me, and girls are enjoying the books just as much as boys.

  4. I’m sorry, but if boys won’t read I’m perfectly happy with girls being the literate, well-read ones, who go on to university, who get the best paying jobs, and who eventually rule the United States.

  5. Roger, does the article address the issue of calling these “boy” books and “girl” books? Every discussion seems to reinforce this labeling in spite of the fact that it is a) inaccurate and b) toxic.

  6. I think this library has a pretty good idea. They saw the need and they responded. Bravo!

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