This month for Reading Wildly, we read contemporary fiction. You may also call this realistic fiction, but we specify contemporary because we're talking about books set in the present day, not historical fiction.
To kick off our discussion, we talked about the article "One Tough Cookie" by Carey E. Hagan, the Field Notes column from the September/October 2011 Horn Book Magazine. In this article, Hagan discusses her difficulties in getting boys to check out books that are perceived as "girl books".
My staff had a lot to say about this article. We talked about how it was difficult to get not only boys but parents of boys to take home books about girls (sometimes, not always!). We talked about how dangerous this is - to encourage boys to check out and read solely books about boys is to tell them that the lives of girls are not something they have to care about or value.
We shared some strategies for combating this mindset. First and foremost, we must be cognizant that it's good to present boys and girls with books about both boys and girls. We, as gatekeepers, need to check that we're not booktalking a book as "for girls" or "for boys". Instead of emphasizing the gender of the characters, talk about what the characters do or what's exciting, funny, or interesting about the book. Solicit impromptu book reviews from young readers and file those away so that you can tell young readers "I know a boy who read that book and he said it was cool." etc.
Just as we should be including diverse books in what we're booktalking and suggesting, we need to include books featuring protagonists of both genres.
Here's what we read:
- Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look
- Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez
- Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
- The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
- Burned by Ellen Hopkins
- Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb
- Jake Drake, Class Clown by Andrew Clements
- The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
- Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
- Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
- Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
- Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
- The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
- Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins
- The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye
For our October meeting, we'll be reading scary stories (and slightly scary stories!) and reading the article "Are Goosebumps Real Literature?" by Leslie Anne Perry and Rebecca Butler from Language Arts, October 1997.
What scary books would you recommend for us to check out?