Pam Allyn’s book was written from years of experience working with young readers in the Books for Boys program that she founded. This quick read is divided into three sections. The first defines the focus on books for boys by looking briefly at the state of boys in the classroom in relation to reading. This short section also addressed the preconception of reading as being a quiet, solitary activity involving a book. Allyn addresses the shortfalls of such a narrow definition.
The second section addresses the R-E-A-D approach to creating a reading life. R-E-A-D stands for Ritual, Environment, Access and Dialogue. Allyn provides ideas on how to create an environment that promotes reading. One thing stressed is the need to promote nonfiction in poetry in read-alouds as well as fiction. Access means providing a wide variety of options to boy readers and incorporating their interests in reading choices. Dialogue spoke to allowing boys to express their reactions to reading in a nonthreatening environment. An essential component of the R-E-A-D portion of this book was the question and answer section. These expanded upon how to make boys more comfortable reading, how to build reading endurance and ‘light’ books.
The third section makes up the bulk of a book with an essential annotated bibliography on a variety of topics. Each title receives a recommendation code of Emerging, Developing, or Maturing. These codes give a rough estimate of a boy’s emotional development rather than simple chronology. Topics found in the bibliography include adventure, fantasy, humor and learning to love reading. The titles included are a mix of newer publications and older ones. Some annotations include discussion ideas to use with boys.
This book could be used to build a classroom or school library, as a basis for book talks and a guideline for creating programming that promotes reading. It is one I’m eager to share pieces of with my school community.
You can find a wonderful interview with Pam Allyn on Watch. Connect. Read.