Update with warning: Do not post spam here about your boy-friendly book. I am deleting all such comments.
One of the most gratifying aspects of meeting people who’ve read How To Ditch Your Fairy since it came out last September (in the USA) is the number of boys who’ve turned out to be fans of the book. I will admit that given the title and the cover I was expecting an almost non-existent boy readership. I’ve been told a million times that boys won’t touch a pink book and that HTDYF is irredeemably pink. So I’ve been dead chuffed by the boy fans.
While on tour for the book last year many parents asked me if they thought my book would work for their son. I was able to confidently tell them about other boys who’ve liked it. But really I can’t speak for all boys. (Or for all girls.) It depends on what kind of stories your son likes.
During a panel I did recently (at
either TLA this year or NCTE last year)1 we panellists were begged by a school librarian to write books for boys. Specifically funny ones with boy protags that have no sex in them. (How To Ditch Your Fairy manages two out of three.) Now I had several thoughts in response to this request:
- 1) I’ve never written a book to someone else’s specifications in my life and I’m not about to start now. I don’t even write them to my own specifications. My novels just go where they go.
2) There are heaps of books like that already in existence and I don’t just mean the Wimpy Kid books.
3) Why is there so much panic about boys reading? And such a strong conviction that boys will only read boy books?
I also get the feeling that we worry about “boy books” and “girl books” way too much. I talked with several twelve year old boys, who did not feel that their masculinity had been undermined in any way by reading How To Ditch Your Fairy. And, yes, I talked to several who wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole even after I assured them there were explosions in it.
I think there are way more boys reading then get counted as reading. On tour I met many boys who read and not just novels. I met boys who love manga and anime who told me they didn’t read because they thought only novels counted. Boys who read non-fiction by the truckload told me they didn’t read because they thought only novels counted. Boys who read manuals and catalogues ditto.
Why do so many boys have the idea that none of those count as reading?
Does anyone else wonder if the panic about boys reading novels may be one of the contributing factor to boys not reading novels?
I am a passionate reader of novels but I do not thing they are the be all and all of the reading experience. Why do we keep trying to insist that they are?
I have no answers to any of these questions. Do any of you?
Update: I have shut off comments because too many people were attempting to spam comments with advertisements for their books. Don’t do that.
- Sorry I has very poor memory. [↩]