Friday, August 15, 2008

Farts Are In

It would appear the boys have spoken. In boys' literature, hearths are out. Farts are in. More and more, publishers are trying to interest the boy market with gory or gross books. The move is a desperate attempt to get boys into reading early, as boys have been seen to lag behind and loose interest in reading by middle school.

Some have called this trend nothing more than a market stooping to all new lows in children's literature for broader appeal at the sake of more appropriate and stimulating material. Others have sung its praises, saying that it doesn't matter so much what little boys are reading, so long as they are reading--and enjoying it.

Some books are more stimulating reads than others. Many books aimed at boys are fictional, such as the Captain Underpants series, The Day My Butt Went Psycho, Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger, Walter the Farting Dog. Titles such as these have attracted many boys' interests, which seems natural, but it is questionable how much they have inspired boys to enjoy reading in general. Of course boys are going to enjoy reading a book about something gross!

Many people don't seem bothered by the trend, and insist that so long as boys are reading it doesn't matter what they are reading about. Many parents though, would rather see their children reading material that challenges them and inspires them, not force feeds them down a narrow path of "crude entertainment."
For a list of good "boy books" to inspire a boy's interest in reading at all age levels, is a helpful and informational resource for parents and anyone who knows a boy.
For the record, three are many other gross and gory books that seem more educational and stimulating. These are mostly non-fiction. Scholastic's Wicked History series, including tidbits on some of the most ruthless tyrants and conquerors in history on blood-splattered paper, Mary Tudor, Leopold II, and Vlad the Impaler are included; The Sanitation Investigation series, from Capstone Press, including Getting to Know Your Toilet: The Disgusting Story Behind Your Homes Strangest Feature...etc
"Other popular selections in the grossness genre include Workman Publishing's "Oh, Yuck: The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty" and Simon & Schuster's "It's Disgusting and We Ate It! True Food Facts from Around the World and Throughout History." (Think worms, rats and squirrels.)"
Ultimately the point of reading is to open up a child's mind, inform them, entertain and educate, and once again it all comes down to respecting a child's informed autonomy. If you ask the boys themselves, they'll tell you what they think of these books, as this article describes:
"Eleven-year-old Yathrib Aryanpure, who just finished sixth grade in Tuscaloosa, Ala., says the answer is a resounding yes. He loved "Vlad the Impaler," especially when the boy learned the tyrant was assassinated, ending up with his own severed head on a stick. "I like gory books," he says. "Vlad the Impaler went on a killing rampage. In the end, he got a taste of his own medicine."

Mr. Schrank might be talking about 10-year-old Parker Self. Parker, who lives in Dallas, dismisses "Charlotte's Web" as a "girl's book" and assigned texts from school as "good for nothing" and "really boring to read." He prefers soccer and his PlayStation.

His mother, Hope, worried that Parker would never open a book. Then, Parker's grandmother found a copy of "The Day My Butt Went Psycho," and the boy was hooked. "Mom, this is a great book!" Parker raved."

Social conventions have finally caught up with a boy's interests, and I got to say, it's about time. As a former boy myself, this trend meets with my own approval... I might even be tempted to read some of these titles!

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