My post about “How to Write for Boys” was one of my most popular, and, no coincidence, pretty snarky. Snark sells. But I’ve felt like I should probably come back and counteract the sarcasm with legitimate advice, but didn’t have any.
So having cursed the darkness, here’s William Brozo to light a candle. I was directed to his book called To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader, now in second edition, which (among other things) discusses positive male archetypes. Brozo describes ten: magician, healer, king, wildman, etc., with examples of each.
I don’t know if those archetypes are comprehensive or mutually exclusive or the right ten archetypes, but I think it conveys the right idea — that boys might read because they want to figure themselves out, and that books in turn might help boys figure themselves out, thinking about roles and expectations and having meaningful lives.
I was also intrigued by the bit about boys reading “a few good books.” That’s all it takes, really, and even if a boy doesn’t read a lot — if they are the right books, that’s OK. I read a bunch as a kid, but a lot of guys just had one or two favorites that they’d re-read over and over. So I wonder if that’s something to consider — that boys don’t need to read a lot of books to be successful readers, if those books matter to them and make a difference in their lives. I wonder, too, if I only read a few books that really made a difference.