Apparently, boys and girls read for different reasons. "According to Eden Ross Lipson, the author of The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children, boys read on a need-to-know basis: To generalize wildly, "They don't set out looking for story and relationship. They set out looking for information." (quoted in Why Boys Like Girl Books at Slate.com)
Okay, as mind-blowing as this observation isn't, there is value in oversimplifying. Take, for example, the stack of "Horrible" books on my kitchen counter. I mentioned last time this wonderful series of British books, starting with Terry Deary's Horrible Histories. I like them because they read like a story--the narration is conversational and proceeds logically from one topic to another, for the most part. (I still don't like having to read-aloud the cartoon chapters. I also have some issues with the way they mucked about the Twisted Tales series, but I'll save that for another day.)
On the other hand, they are completely non-fiction (except the Twisted Tales) and somewhat interactive with quizzes, the aforementioned cartoons, lists, etc., hence "boy books." Mom (that would be me) loves them because Xavier has actually turned off the endless reruns of "Ned's Declassified" and read a book, without me having the slightest idea what he was doing, much less prompting, nagging or otherwise forcing him to do it. Yay!
Within ten minutes of unpacking the order, Klaus was reading aloud to his brothers from "Rotten Romans." Much giggling ensued, if it's fair to accuse teen and pre-teen boys of giggling. Klaus has told me repeatedly how much he likes the Horrible Histories and we will be ordering more when the time comes.
The books are only sporadically published here (by Scholastic, who doesn't seem to realize they've got another Harry Potter juggernaut on their hands here). You can find them on ebay, though they are quite expensive, and Amazon UK, where they are horribly expensive (sorry, couldn't resist the pun). I ordered mine through a homeschooling dad in California, who sells books on the side, for about $8 per book, including shipping (15 book minimum). He's going to put together another bulk order in October/November for holiday delivery and I have cleared with him letting you all in on the next order. I will give you all the details on the next ordering opportunity as soon as I get them. Watch this space!