I sincerely there are few (if any) male readers between the ages of 8 and 19 years old, but perhaps some of you out there know some boys in this age range who might be able to help a graduate student with a little informal research for a lecture he is planning to give in January.
Without unduly influencing the answers, the questions I am curious to hear answers to are as follows:
* What plots or types of stories are you tired of seeing in fiction? Any good examples?
* What’s the most recent book that made you want to close a book within the first three pages? Why?
* Have you ever read a book that felt “fake,” like the author was trying too hard to achieve something but failed? What was the book, and did you finish it anyway?
There is a hidden irony in that the readers I really want to hear answer these questions are non-readers and reluctant readers who might not be as aware of their reading preferences. Boys who are turned off to reading usually aren’t turned off by the books themselves; the issues that drive most boys away from reading tend to be social. But I’ve read enough books aimed at middle grade and young adult readers that I strongly feel miscalculate the desires of the intended audience. But I want to hear it from the boys to know for sure, I need to know what they’re thinking.
So how about it? Know any boys? Know any boys who’d be willing to answer these questions? I don’t need names, all confidentially will be maintained, the freedom to speak is greatly encouraged. What I do not need are any more studies and surveys and research that discusses preferences in reading subjects, or general trends in reading. I got those a-plenty and almost NONE of them actually provided their subjects open questions. How can you tell what a boy is thinking by having him check off boxes and categories? (As if we can ever really tell what a boy is thinking, no matter how articulate!)
Teachers? Librarians? Parents? Feel free to get in touch with me directly.
(Note: the three questions above were changed slightly on 1 November 2009 to more accurately reflect my curiosities.)