Lady Of The Manor: Where Have All The ‘Boy’ Books Gone?
The other day I popped out to buy some books for my son. Heâ€™s going into third grade in the fall and I didnâ€™t want him to completely stop reading now that school is over. He also happens to love a good yarn and heâ€™s read everything weâ€™ve got.
Usually weâ€™ll make a day of it. Weâ€™ll go for lunch and then to the bookstore. Weâ€™ll go through every shelf, judging books by their covers â€“ and shape, weight and font. Weâ€™ll hang out and discuss them before grabbing a handful and going home happy. We hadnâ€™t been book shopping in nearly a year, but since he’s off at camp, I was flying solo.
I walked up and down the aisles and noticed that if itâ€™s not about a mad farter itâ€™s either a graphic novel or the diary of a self-deprecating loser. Or big sisters fed up with their little brothers, funky fairies or cool chick explorers.
Where have all the boy books gone?
I pulled aside one of the associates and she smiled sadly. â€œItâ€™s true,â€ she said, â€œWe donâ€™t really stock much for boys.â€ There was one series she recommended that was neither faux-memoir, comic, nor mouse tail. â€œButâ€ she warned, â€œitâ€™s for reluctant readers.â€
Reluctant reader? Was my son a reluctant reader? We read to him nightly and he likes reading sports stats in the paper. Heâ€™s a huge Ook and Gluk fan and loves Robert Munsch. He never had trouble choosing books from the school library or book fair, yet here, in one of the cityâ€™s biggest book retailers, I was stuck in the â€œreluctant readerâ€ section.
Ignoring the label, I went for it and bought the first book in Rich Wallaceâ€™s â€œThe Kickersâ€ series. Itâ€™s about a local soccer league and my son practically inhaled it, asking if there were any more. He didnâ€™t seem too reluctant to continue reading.
And then I went online, where the world is filled with books for boys and girls of all ages and stages. Sports, fantasy, adventure, classics. Biography, science, history and travel. All age-appropriate, all mesmerizing.
Relieved, I called my kids over to the computer. It isnâ€™t often that Iâ€™m urging them to sit screen-side, but we spent ages book-browsing online. Once we got past the excitement of seeing books we already own (â€œLook! Itâ€™s Bad Kitty! And Captain Underpants! And The Beatles!), my son checked out with a couple of Roald Dahl classics, a Titanic book and the second of the Kickers series.
It was exciting â€“ and expensive â€“ but our books on en route and my readers arenâ€™t nearly as reluctant as Iâ€™d feared. But, it seems, the retailers are. While I was happy to spend the screen time together, I couldnâ€™t help but wonder why we couldnâ€™t do it live and in person. It remains the mystery of the missing booksâ€¦ Where are The Hardy Boys when you need them?