Much has been written, and there’s been much discussion, about the gender gap in reading between boys and girls. A recent study points out that girls are closing their gap with boys when it comes to math, but boys still lag behind girls when it comes to reading.
Depending on the research or analysis of the research, we often hear that boys read less, or that they read simpler books. And, of course, there are folks out there who have ideas about how to get boys reading more.
There also seems to be a lack of respect about the books boys read: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, graphic novels all have their detractors.
Enter author and reading advocate Jon Scieszka, who was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Librarian of Congress in 2008. Schieszka is interested in getting all young people to read, but he has a particular interest in getting boys to read. He started Guys Read, a non-profit literacy organization, and his Guys Read web page is Literary Kitty’s site of the week. Cause, Literary Kitty is a guy, don’t you know! (OK, Kitty P., don’t get started!)
We have literacy programs for adults and families. GUYS READ is our chance to call attention to boys’ literacy.”
The raison d’etre and mission of Guys Reads is explained beautifully here. Visitors to the site can get books suggestions for reluctant readers, submit their own suggestions, and find out how to start a local Guys Read chapter.
Note that the site often focuses on boys in elementary and middle school grades, not older teens. But, the best way to get guys reading, is to catch ‘em and inspire ‘em while they’re young.
Watch Jon Scieszka’s interview with the folks at Reading Rockets.
Check out Szieszka’s book page on Amazon.
Boys like real life stories. Szieszka’s Guys Write for Guys Read is an anthology of authors writing about their experiences as boys.
Literary Kitty wants you to know that there are some really bad writers out there. To prove his point, he shared [sic] Humor: Where Every New Book is the Worst I’ve Ever Read. The author of the blog sets up the mission:
“My work involves reading lots of books. Many of these books are terrible. Allow me to share with you their incredible mutations of both the English language and the ancient tradition of storytelling.”
It’s been said that many aspiring writers really don’t want to write a book, they want to have written a book. Too bad this wish sometimes translates into action that produces very bad prose.
We’re reminded of what one of Oklahoma’s great storytellers, S.E. Hinton, said at an awards ceremony several years ago. She was responding to a question about her lack of output in recent years. Hinton said she didn’t write anything during those years because she didn’t have anything to say. Then she added, “If more writers would do this, we’d have better books.” Amen.
We’ll share a sample from the site with you below, and then you can visit [sic] Humor yourself to discover more inadvertently humorous sentences and paragraphs. It’s a great place for Bulwer-Lytton fans!
You are correct, Mrs. Abrams. I am Penelope, daughter of Lilith. We meet again. What you have just witnessed is my father. He has never seen me, nor I him. I knew ten years ago that Nikki would grow up to resemble my mother. That is the main reason that there is such a strong bond between your daughter and me. She is like my spirit-mate in more ways than one. In many ways she is like my mother. In many more she is like me when I was her age. It is no wonder that my father is confused.”
We’re not so much confused as bored. Honestly, does anyone talk this way?
Literary Kitty says the only thing as good as reading books is reading about books. He dropped off this site and danced a jig before rushing out the door to do whatever he does when he’s not researching sites for us.
After perusing the site, I can tell why he’s excited about the Huffington Post Books Page. Not only does this site offer original columns, it has links to reviews, controversies, book lists, reading technologies, the strange and unusual, and much more.
Here’s a quick sampling of the wonders found on the HP Books Page:
• Artist Frank Parker’s daughter considers her father’s lifelong friendship with tortured confessional poet Robert Lowell, a man Parker called “the most unlovable man ever.”
• The New York Times names its 10 Best Books of 2010.
• Great art books for give for the Christmas holiday.
• Kurt Vonnegut returns to Indianapolis. (Well, not really, of course. But, sorta.)
• An indie bookseller launches this anti-Amazon blog.
And we’ve barely scratched the surface! Do not pass go. Go immediately to the HP Books Page, and have a great time!
Literary Kittie is feeling very literary this morning, so her Site of the Week is the National Book Foundations’ National Book Awards.
In 2010, there were 1,115 books submitted for the National Book Awards.
The number of books by genre:
- Fiction: 302
- Nonfiction: 435
- Poetry: 148
- Young People’s Literature: 230
Since 1950, The National Book Awards have recognized the best of American literature. Musician Patti Smith who just won the prize for nonfiction with her memoir, Just Kids, made a plea for publishers and readers not to let technology kill off traditional books.
“There is nothing more beautiful than the book, the paper, the font, the cloth,” she said. “Please never abandon the book.” –Patti Smith
You can watch the November 17th ceremony yourself from the link, Please note that the video contains adult language. Also you’ll be able to see all the finalists and winners listed.
And for another Literary Kittie award worthy site, check out the 2010 World Fantasy Award Winners . The World Fantasy Convention was held the end of October in Columbus, Ohio where the awards were given out. I always find good books from the Finalists lists. I’ve got Finch by Jeff VanderMeer checked out from the library right now.
So in this season of awards, winners and finalists, get out there and find some fine reading, and in the words of Patti Smith,
Never Abandon the Book.
Actually, Kitty and I are thrilled! It’s been one of those weeks from Hades, and we really thought the first week in November would pass without a post on our blog. But here was our favorite aloof cat, prancing in and dropping the goods. I suspect he* thinks we’re gonna pick just one, but we’re gonna give ‘em all to you.
The truth is, we rarely think about the type font in a book we’re reading unless it’s difficult to read. If you’re reading along, engrossed in your latest book, and you’re not paying attention to the typeface, then the type designer has done his/her job well, as has the publisher in deciding to use that particular font.
Most people didn’t think about type fonts at all until the computer age, when everybody became an expert with those drop-down font menus on their desktop machines.
The Top 100 Best Fonts of All Time Most of the fonts on this list are 20th century creations, developed in response to the mass printing capabilities offered by the letterpress and offset printing processes. But some fonts are truly timeless. The oldest creation on the list is Bembo, designed by Francesco Griffo in 1496, about 56 years after Gutenberg developed his movable-type printing press.
Serif or Sans-Serif? Don’t know what we’re talking about? Actually, you do. Marketing executive David Canfield explains the difference, and talks about the advantage of one over the other in print and online environments.
Font or Typeface? We sometimes use these terms interchangeably, but there is a difference. The FontFeed provides the details. (Our favorite explanation of the difference: the Font is the mp3 file. The Typeface is the song. Beautiful!)
The Anatomy of Web Fonts Want to get deeper into what the online environment hath wrought for typography? Go here.
Top Ten Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners More scoop from The FontFeed. Take a look at these fonts the next time you’re designing a cover for your latest report!
Typography Geeks and Font Snobs Finally, our favorite former Oklahoma librarian, Cokie Anderson, provides this wonderful little post on Booktryst. I think I would have loved it even if I hadn’t taken a typography class in college!
*Asterisk! More about our literary cat… Kitty and I have a disagreement about the gender of our furry friend. I think he’s a he, and she thinks she’s a she. We don’t actually know. We never get close enough to him/her to tell. I mean, it was hard enough to round him/her up for the photo above. And since we do not discriminate on the basis of gender, it doesn’t really matter. The pay for our weekly site is the same: one can of tuna.
Our literary cat escaped last week and got into all kinds of trouble! He’s back now and brings with him this suggestion for our Site of the Week: Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Forever. (We already knew about this site, and we suspect our cat did to. What have you been up to cat?!)
Pearl is a former librarian (she even has her very own action figure). But more than anything, she’s a reader. Book Lust is all about what Nancy reads and recommends, and she’s often on NPR talking about her latest discoveries. Dive in and have a great time. (That’s all we have to say right now, because we’ve got a bad cat to deal with here! Bad kitty!)
Just saw in the September 13th issue an interview with Sheldon Russell. Oklahoma’s own historical mystery writer has a second book out in his Hook Runyon series, The Insane Train. Looking forward to reading it. See my review of The Yard Dog.
There’s also free eNewsletters if you want book news to pop into your email.
So if you want to be in the “know” like your favorite bookstore or librarian check out PW, Publishers Weekly.
Check out your library for DVDs!!
**Americans borrow more DVDs from libraries (some 2.1 million per day) than from Netflix, which ships an average of slightly more than two million rentals daily–this according to results from the 2010 Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) survey “How Libraries Stack Up.” According to the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the United State public libraries have doubled their movie collections between 1999 and 2008, from 73.5 to 166.7 video materials per 1000 people.
Our Literary Cat says next week is Banned Books Week. Thanks for the reminder, cat!
For your viewing pleasure: a list of twelve books guaranteed to turn (almost) anyone into a censor from the great site Booktryst. We like this site because it tends to give us the oddball and offbeat side of the book world, as you can see from this post, or this post. And what about this post!?
We also like Booktryst because one of its contributors is a former Oklahoma librarian, Cokie G. Anderson. Cokie is basking in the sane temperatures of the Great Northwest now, but she still loves her some books!
OK, we’ve given you fair warning. Time to select a banned or challenged book to read sometime between September 25 and October 2.
And as always, do let us know what you’re reading. We love hearing from you.
Today, our literary cat is promoting a book review site where *you* and the average Joe and Jane are the reviewers. Good Reads is a great place to see reviews from fellow readers, leave your own reviews, find new books by genre to devour, and view lists of the bests. You can also keep track of the books you’ve read. See! This is perfect for all of you overachieving readers who have ever looked at a book and asked, “Haven’t I read this before?”
My favorite feature: you can “collect” your favorite quotes from books. Since I don’t have a searchable e-reader, I’m thinking this could come in handy. (I’m still traumatized by trying to find a quote from C.J. Cherryh’s Regenesis several months ago that I wanted to share with Kitty. Took me forever to find that passage!)
We’re going to say the week starts with Monday, because I didn’t get the Site of the Week up until Sunday evening… Looking for just the right book site, Bookgasm is it.
If you need convincing go to their About page, it pretty much says it all,
Hey, have you read the new Nora Roberts?
Are you a member of Oprah’s Book Club?
Do you enjoy stories about the struggles of the disenfranchised in our society?
If you answered “no” to all those questions, we’d like to welcome you to BOOKGASM, the site dedicated to READING MATERIAL TO GET EXCITED ABOUT.
That includes all kinds of genre fiction, from horror and sci-fi to mystery and suspense. It also includes graphic novels, trashy paperbacks, cheap magazines and other things that much of America pretends to be ashamed of, for no good reason.
That’s just the kind of literature I love. Reading should make you want to stay up through the next chapter, it should make you turn off the tv, you shouldn’t have to explain it to anyone but you should want to tell everyone what you just read, it is a bookgasm sort of thing. The addiction that needs no intervention. So have a Bookgasm.
Even though the dropdown menu sticks on me, I think the selection of different genres that are reviewed should make anyone sit up straight.
P.S. They won Spinetingler Award for Special Services to the Industry & Community. (basically best blogs, forums)
Spinetingler is another necessary stop for finding reading pleasure.