Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Being a Boy is Hard

Here is a short Response Paper I wrote for my Young Adult Literature Class.

Being a Boy is Hard

As a young woman, I often found solace and learned important truths from reading novels. In fact, I learned so much from reading novels that I often wondered how my non-reader friends ever learned anything and how they got along in the world. Well, they didn’t or at least not very well. This extra knowledge I gleaned from reading has served me well over the years and that is one reason why I feel it is so important to provide access to books and additional understanding to students who read them.

Boys have traditionally been left to other devices to learn the lessons of life, reading was never high on the list of any of the boys I knew and I always felt like it was a shame. It was especially sad when the other “devices” boys learned by were their idiot friends, their bigoted neighbors or their chauvinistic fathers. Young men need just as much information as young women do in order to grow up to be enlightened, functional and happy grown-ups. Reading is a terrific way to accomplish this search for information on how to become an adult.

I know reading about regular, average boy’s lives is probably not as exciting as the novels the authors in the articles summarized, but, don’t these boys exist somewhere or is every young man in a cage match with girls, friends, dating, drinking, sex, love, emotions and testosterone? Maybe they are. And if they are, they should read more. They should read many of the novels listed in these articles and take the time to think about their situations and possible solutions, or interventions, to their apparently destructive behavior.

Taking time is something that boys NEVER do. The boys that I know are always running: to school where they can see their friends, to practice, to a game, to a party afterwards, to a movie after the party, then to a bonfire out on the Arizona Strip. The only time they slow down is when they collapse into bed after being on their feet for the 20-hour, adrenaline-filled-juggernaut they call a Wednesday. There is no time spent on introspection, future planning, coming to terms, social development, relationships or (heaven forbid) homework.

The problem is that homework, reading and any of the above mentioned skills that are necessary for ending up in a good place instead of prison, or (the closely-related) teen parenthood, are not cool and they are not fun and those are the two things that drive boys: coolness and fun.

It will be up to every English teacher in the country to pay attention to boys and their reading habits and try to develop cool and fun ways to get them interested in books, and especially books that could teach valuable lessons in life that boys need, just as much as girls do.

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