Great Books for Boys

Great Books for Boys

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by Kathleen Odean

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Parents, grandparents, teachers, and librarians—we need a tool that guides us to the books that will inspire boys to read and keep them coming back for more. Now Kathleen Odean, a former member of the Caldecott and Newbery Award committees and author of the groundbreaking bestseller Great Books for Girls has compiled



Parents, grandparents, teachers, and librarians—we need a tool that guides us to the books that will inspire boys to read and keep them coming back for more. Now Kathleen Odean, a former member of the Caldecott and Newbery Award committees and author of the groundbreaking bestseller Great Books for Girls has compiled and annotated a unique collection of more than six hundred books—picture books, novels, mysteries, biographies, sports books, and more—that will fascinate and educate boys. Here are classic characters such as Frog and Toad, Bilbo Baggins, and Encyclopedia Brown; new favorites such as Bingo Brown, Martin the Warrior, and Harry the Dirty Dog; and real-life inspirations such as the Wright brothers, Jackie Robinson, and Jacques Cousteau.

The boys who discover reading from the books in this invaluable volume will witness a wide range of role models—and embark upon an adventure that will fuel their dreams for the rest of their lives.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Children's books are frequently used to proselytize. Luckily, resources like these help sort out the good from the dogmatic, the mediocre, and the bad. As former Caldecott and Newbery Award committee member Odean reminds us in her introduction to Great Books for Boys, boys have different challenges growing up than girls do. In this companion to her Great Books for Girls (LJ 1/97), she summarizes over 600 books, from picture books to novels, arranging them by reader age from two to 14 and providing short, descriptive synopses. She chooses stories with characters of both sexes that reflect the complexity of boys' lives--a family's flight from domestic abuse, a sixth grader's struggle to understand a beloved but bigoted father--as well as stories about children who use creativity to solve problems. She also lists tips for reading aloud, magazines that review children's books, and a special section for books on sexuality and growing up. Cooper-Mullin and Coye, who have six daughters between them, have gathered books whose heroines are smart and strong-willed. Nontraditional roles, interesting plots, meaningful character development, and rich language were some of their criteria for inclusion. Organized from "early readers" to "young adults," their book includes a resource list for finding the books mentioned. It also features quotes from women like Ruby Bridges and Janet Reno. As with Great Books for Boys, all children can enjoy these selections. A single drawback of both these titles is the absence of author and title indexes. Both books are recommended for all school and public libraries. Introduced by Marian Wright Edelman, Strong Souls Singing focuses on African American literature for girls and women and is the companion to Spirited Minds: African American Books for Our Sons and Our Brothers (LJ 9/1/97). Covering 110 books, it is the narrowest of the three titles reviewed here. Each chapter covers a particular genre (i.e., poetry, drama, fiction, biography, and history) and contains page-long entries with suggested reading levels. These mini-book reviews are nicely illustrated and accompanied by book excerpts, but many of the recommended books, such as Alice Walker's The Color Purple, are already well known and are certainly found in other bibliographies. Recommended for large public libraries and African American collections.--Glynys Thomas, Suffolk Univ. Lib., Boston
School Library Journal
One of the things that many boys give up on their way to manhood is a love of reading," states Odean in her introduction. This thoughtfully compiled annotated bibliography gives parents, teachers, and librarians strategies to help prevent this loss. Titles are organized by reader age and genre. Each entry provides a bibliographic citation, suggested age range, and brief annotation. Readers of Odean's Great Books for Girls (Ballantine, 1997) will note that a different sociological agenda underlies Great Books for Boys. While the former focused exclusively on titles with assertive, active female characters, this one includes those with strong protagonists of both sexes, as well as nonfiction. Odean urges adults to provide boys with literature that reflects the widest possible range of emotions and experiences, from swashbuckling adventure to peaceful daydreaming. A list of magazines for young readers acknowledges the importance of nonbook reading material. Graphic novels and comic books are not included. An excellent resource.Constance Vidor, The Cathedral School of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Reading aloud has a host of educational benefits, but is works best if it isn't approached as an educational exercise. Parents have been known to have children repeat each word after them, as a device to teach reading. Such a tedious approach is more likely to dampen enthusiasm for books than to promote learning. Just enjoy the books together. The increased vocabulary, understanding of story structure, exposure to correct grammar, and other benefits will follow naturally.

If you haven't read the book already, scan it to get a sense of its content before you start reading aloud.

Choose books you are excited about or your child is excited about. It is hard to read a book you don't enjoy, especially a long one.

Read with expression. A monotone is hard to listen to. Children need to hear changes in your voice to indicate when you are reading dialogue.
Vary your pace, too. Slow down to build up suspense, and speed up during exciting scenes.

Create voices for difference characters if you enjoy it, but it isn't necessary for a good reading. A story can be read effectively in a straightforward manner as long as you have expression and enthusiasm.

Read at a moderate pace, not too fast. Listening is a challenge for many children, and you don't want to leave them behind you as you speed ahead. Picture-story books require time for enjoying the illustrations.

Feel free to stop and discuss the book if you and your listener want to. Answer questions as they come up. How much you want to stop and explain new words is up to you. If they can be understood in context, you may want just to keep reading. Stopping too often to explain can undermine the story's impact.

Keep in mind that children can look bored or restless and still be listening. Some children need to be moving around or fidgeting with something. The real question is, are they following the story? If so,
let them squirm or even draw pictures as they listen.

Sometimes a book will lead to conversations afterward, sometimes not.
Play it by ear. Either way is fine.

If your child wants to read to you sometimes, great. Beginning readers especially enjoy their new skills. You can trade off pages or chapters,
or just sit back and listen.

If your child is not enjoying a book, you are not obliged to finish it. This is most likely to come up with chapter books. You don't want to abandon a book quickly, but if a book has not sparked interest after several sessions, try another one. If this is a pattern, you may want to switch to shorter books and build up to longer ones.

Try reading just a few poems together at a time. Start with light verse if you are uncomfortable with poetry. You may be surprised as how much fun you and your child can have with poems.

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Great Books for Boys 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a terrific guide that will help parents and boys find books that really get and keep boys reading. It's arranged by age, with lots of information and description so it's easy to use. If your boy doesn't like to read, you'll find books that might change his mind, including interesting nonfiction. If he does like to read, this will give you an idea what he might like to read next. A must-have if you care about raising a literate son.