Tuesday, September 11, 2007


So I was reading Finding Lubchenko by Michael Simmons at the laundromat Sunday and it was so yawn. It was like reading a technical manual. It begins with an elaborate explanation of how the main character is boosting computers from his Dad's company, and continues with an elaborate explanation of how he gets entangled in an international bioterrorism plot. It's like explanations within explanations, and I'm like That's a plot? That's character development?

But today I was reading the new Horn Book on my break. Specifically, I was reading an interview with Jon Scieszka, and it was all about how we value the way girls read rather than the way boys read. Here's the quote that zinged me:

"That's a different way boys experience books, and part of why they enjoy nonfiction, certainly. There's something about boys amassing expertise and being in charge of that knowledge, whether it's about all the dinosaurs in the world or every kind of truck there is on the planet."

And I realized that Finding Lubchenko isn't a pathetic excuse for a narrative--it's a narrative that will resonate with people who are systems thinkers, who like order and control, who like to know why, and who like to categorize things and do them step-by-step, people who like to take things apart and then put them back together.

This describes many boys. So all the time I'm hearing about how boys are discriminated against when required reading is determined, and I theoretically agree, but I still don't admit the ways in which I participate in that discrimination, because it doesn't even occur to me. So now I admit it: I am biased against books that explain everything. There. I said it.

1 comment:

Amy Barlow said...

You are back!

I want a person with a Y chromosome to leave a comment regarding this post. The most avid boy reader that I ever knew loved his nonfiction, it is true. When he did read fiction, it was usually historical fiction about the sea and its people. Technical stuff that requires research about rigging and diet and survival. zzzz....

What about graphic novels and comic books? Do they inherently explain everything because of the revealing nature of dialogue and the detail of graphic illustration?

I imagine that you have a huge challenge to collect books that will interest young boys.