Title: Best Books for Boys: A Resource for Educators
Author: Matthew Zbaracki
Publication Year: 2008
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Review: I think this is a really interesting concept for a book, because as the author points out and most people would agree, girls frequently enjoy “boy” books, but boys are less interested in “girl” books. Many of the titles I’ve read, I enjoyed, and lots of the ones I never heard of sounded really interesting to me personally (a grown up girl). (Of course, there were others titles that sounded not appealing to me at all such as the first recommendation: Smart Feller, Fart Smeller.) If someone were going to read aloud a story to a class or to a group of children of mixed gender and ages (such as siblings), this is basically a compilation of books that are likely to appeal to a wide range of people.
Another reason why this book seems useful is because it focuses on older kids (about 8 through 16). I spend quite a lot of time trying to select great picture books for my toddler and preschooler, but let’s be honest. They’re not that critical of what I read to them. They’re just happy to be read to and don’t particularly care if it’s a classic like The Little Engine That Could or an unmemorable board book from the library about learning shapes. However, older children can be challenging. If they’ve already decided they don’t like reading, getting them interested in a book can be difficult. This seems like it would be a good reference for that situation, particularly if the unenthusiastic reader is a boy.
The only thing I thought was somewhat strange about this book is that there are a fairly limited number of titles (around 400) and how these titles were chosen is a little unclear. It appears the author collaborated with certain children’s authors and the works of these authors seem to be somewhat over-represented in the list. Also, rather than say, “this series of books is good,” the author frequently lists the first few titles from books in the same series, which seems a little unnecessary to me. Is he implying that when he doesn’t list a book from the series, it isn’t really very good? Overall though, I think this is a good resource for selecting novels for older children, especially, but not only, boys. (Personal Rating: 8/10)