When did I become such a strong advocate for boys and reading? Probably when I decided to accept that I was once a boy, and that it wasn’t such a bad thing, and maybe I need to rediscover that boy a little more.
Recently I’ve made my case on how to foster a positive book environment for boys in a retail setting on a couple of posts over at Sara Holmes site, here and here. Those are some long-ass comments I left, I kinda think I probably should have written a post about them instead.
I may still, but not today. Today is all last-minute and getting-ready and trying-to-act-calm. And a couple of confessions.
I’m seeing signs in various corners of the kidlit world that are starting to reevaluate the boys and the way they read. It’s interesting to think that after living my life feeling like I was a bad reader as a boy I might have been more typical and might have done better in school if I understood my tastes and reading habits better.
For example, how I thought I was a bad reader because I was a slower reader than my friends. And how I felt out of step because everyone else loved the books we read as a class but there wasn’t any encouragement for dissent, which lead me to feel bad if I abandoned a book because it meant something was wrong with me.
I still feel bad that I can’t get beyond the first 4 pages or so of Moby Dick. I’m a grown up, I can do what I want, and people tell me that’s one book I shouldn’t feel bad about, so how did I manage to let this one book have so much power over me? Because I’m a boy, I’m not supposed to have feelings of inadequacy, certainly not over a book, and even if I did I’m not supposed to admit them.
Except I just did. It felt a little scary.
Oh, and I still can’t get into The Hobbit. That one goes back to fifth grade. I also confess that I pretended to have read, and cared about, Brian’s Song in junior high because that was the one sports book you were allowed to read and be emotional about as a guy. I never was into sports and didn’t want to read about sports or terminal cancer for that matter, not then at least, but it was easier to fake caring than to admit otherwise. And while I’m at it, I have some pretty conflicted emotions about Sounder as well.
I could probably dig up more but I’m already feeling overexposed as it is. The lyrics to Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” are running through my head:
This brother is free/I’ll be what I want to be…