A recent editorial by author C. Alexander London addresses the numerous studies and articles claiming that boys don’t read. London states, “When I was young, I hated reading.” Unable to connect with books, London notes that his childhood was spent in search of a good story. He attributes the stories he found on television and in video games with training him to become a good writer. As a result, he feels that teachers, parents, and librarians should stop trying to turn boys into good readers (of fiction) and embrace the legitimacy of the alternative forms of reading that they are already engaging in.
As someone who did not grow up loving books, I really appreciated London’s argument. No, I didn’t like fiction, but I was an avid consumer of thousands of oral stories and I devoured the information found in Encyclopedias and Atlases. Furthermore, I know plenty of intelligent adults who don’t read many books and have done quite well for themselves. They might read the news, magazines, or scour the web for information on subjects that appeal to them, but most only read one or two books a year.
There is no doubt that books are incredible… we’ve all read something that has changed our lives for the better. However, if teacher/parent/librarian-approved books aren’t satisfying the needs of boys today, we should at least strive to turn boys on to the joy of a good story-format independent.