Thursday, March 15, 2007

What Guys Read in the UK

There's a story on the BBC News site today calling for more reading support, particularly for working class boys.

"Boys like books which depict them in powerful roles, often as sporting, spying or fighting heroes - not just Jane Austen, but a necessary dose of Anthony Horowitz as well," [Education Secretary Alan Johnson] said.

"To help get boys reading we need a boys' bookshelf in every secondary school library in the country, containing positive, modern, relevant role models for working class boys."

I'm the first to agree it's very hard to find novels that boys, particularly in the 10+ age-group, will read. But if you put all the exciting books on the "boys only" bookshelf, what happens to the girls who like adventure stories or the Hardy Boys?

Perhaps a better approach than sorting library books by gender, is to make English/reading lessons more accessible for the underwhelmed by changing the way the subject is taught. Enter English teacher Gary Spina, author of The Mountain Man's Field Guide to Grammar. From the New York Times:

"What few of his teachers realized was that Gary was an avid reader before his teens, making his way through the shelf of Jack London in the local library, digging into copies of Robert Louis Stevenson at home. In seventh grade, he picked up Hemingway and began to realize there might be something manly in writing well.

Then, in high school, he applied for a job writing copy at an advertising agency in Hackensack and was rejected because he spelled the word “advertize.” Learning something about correct language and grammar, he realized, might prove useful in his goal of being self-sufficient.

Decades later, Mr. Spina used these insights to write a most unlikely reference book, “The Mountain Man’s Field Guide to Grammar,” which was released last year. In the crowded field of grammar books, his is probably the only one to include “grifter” and “pemmican” in its glossary and to teach the simple sentence with examples such as “Dirty Doris spit tobacco juice.”

Cool, huh? I've been looking for a grammar resource that won't put the boys to sleep. I'm going to check this one out right away!

No comments: