Exploring Children’s Literature Part Two- Books for Boys

Hello Happy Readers!   I realize I’ve been quieter than usual here, so before we get into the meat of this post, I just want to say “hi, everything is alright, I’m dealing with head garbage right now, and trying not to over tax myself.”    I love, love, love writing for this blog, but with the place I’ve been in the last few weeks, it’s become a source of stress, and I never want to think of it that way!   So I’ll be posting a little less frequently, but still bringing you lots of good stuff, please don’t give up on me!

Alright, part two in my soapbox series of Children’s Literature.    Now this post is specifically about books for boys, but I want to put a few disclaimers out there:

  1. I am in no way saying that girls will not enjoy these books.
  2. There are many, many great authors out there that have gender neutral books.
  3. This is a very small selection based on books that we’ve liked enough to add to our shelves.

Gender roles are a very hard line to walk no matter what your position is.   I try to remain gender neutral on Geekling’s activity choices, however he is of course exposed to societal views on his gender through television shows, friends, and every store in the history of ever, and I try to keep this in mind too.  Take for instance the story of the Pink Kitchen.   When Geekling was about 2 he started asking for a play kitchen, and he really didn’t care what kind he got.  The problem was that all the kitchens we could find at consignment shops and yard sales were pink.  Geekling could care less that the kitchen was pink, but I held fast until we were able to find him a neutral colored kitchen.  Why?  Not because I didn’t want him to have a pink kitchen, but because I knew at some point he was going to encounter an unenlightened little hoodlum that would announce to him that “Pink is only for girls!!”.   Of course the inevitable conclusion to draw (and I have personally seen this happen with many, many little boys) is that if pink is for girls, and play kitchens are pink, then kitchens must also be only for girls.   The Geekling did eventually get his kitchen, a nice, natural colored wood one, that he still plays with to this day.

So, why do a post on such a specific need in children’s literature?  Because research is showing that boy’s reading skills consistently lag behind girls (some of this is biological differences, some of this is social differences), and that by the time boys CAN read at the same level as girls, many of them have lost interest in reading entirely.  Now from my viewpoint (and of course everything on this blog is solely my viewpoint) the problem, while complex is not insurmountable.  I feel the problem lies in both how we traditionally teach reading, as well as in WHAT we are offering boys to read.   So I’m going to share with you some traditionally boyish books, and please keep in mind that I do NOT advocate only reading boy books to boys, or girl books to girls, etc. etc. Geekling has been introduced to Madeline, and Ramona, and his favorite show right now is My Little Pony (which is really a blessing, because it cuts down IMMENSELY on the fighting when he and Dreamer have to choose a show together).   My goal is to introduce you to books to read to boys that WANT only boy books, to keep that love of reading alive, and stop the gender separation train before it gets to the “books must only be for girls” station.

So without further ado- my list of “Boy Books” that have made it into our permanent collection:

Freight Train by Donald Crews

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner

Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex

llama llama mad at mama by Anna Dewdney

As I said before, there are many, many more books out there, and if you have some favorites, please recommend them in the comments!!

Also, a fun tip when boys get into a not wanting to read phase- read them books about badly behaved characters.  When Geekling was refusing to try any fiction books I invited him to read with me about the naughtiest cat ever (The Cat in the Hat of course).  He liked it so much that we also read about the naughty fox, a tantrum throwing little llama, and some abominably behaved dinosaurs.   Eventually we worked our way around to half the fiction books on our shelf just by me changing the “spin” on the books.   Of course all these characters have redeeming qualities, or learn a lesson in the end (except that Fox in Socks guy, who knows what he was up to?), but once you start reading, and giggling, over their antics, the trap is sprung and the kid (girl or boy) is hooked.

If you’d like to take a peek at some of the books on our shelves, wander around my amazon store here! (Affiliate link, see my disclosure policy for more information)

So happy reading everyone, and I will be back soon with another math lesson post!



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