How many boys choose to sit and read when they can romp outside or play computer and video games indoors? Yet reading is an important way to help keep their learning skills high during the summer.
Author Jeff Baron seems to have found a formula for getting boys to read. His Sean Rosen series of books, “I Represent Sean Rosen” and “Sean Rosen is Not for Sale,” have hooked boys – they’re being read voraciously and being passed along to friends. Boys like smart, funny books about boys like them.
Here are Jeff’s six tips for how to get boys to read this summer:
- Empower Them: Let them pick the book (or at least let them think they’re picking the book). Suggest a number of different books and ask them to pick one.
- Reflect them: Suggest books that reflect their stage of life. It’s not that easy for boys to find themselves in a character. Most books about boys are sports books or dark fantasies. A kid like Sean Rosen, who’s not an obvious hero, is in some ways more inspiring. Every kid has a secret dream, and if Sean can do it, maybe I can, too. We weren’t planning to put a picture of Sean Rosen on the cover – he’s never described in the book – but something about that kid made us think of Sean. And something about Sean makes boys think, “He’s like me.”
- Build Them a Bridge: Since you already know what boys really want to do when they’re not in school – play games, surf the internet and watch YouTube videos – find books that have a strong online component.Sean Rosen produces videos which are on his YouTube channel. He mentions these ‘podcasts’ in the books, but for the full experience, readers can actually go online and watch Sean’s original music videos and his slice-of life interviews with people in his town. It’s called transmedia storytelling and it works to raise boys’ interest in reading.
- Make ’em Laugh. Boys like funny stuff, and they always will. Humor is a great way in for boys. Once they’re interested in a character, they’ll get involved in a complex story (even if there are no pictures), as long as the book stays funny.
- Respect Them: In addition to being entertained, boys like to be challenged, as long as the language is simple, clear, and written the way they actually talk. You would be amazed what your son can understand. Or maybe you wouldn’t be, because he just finished fixing your computer and programming your universal remote.Sean Rosen is a smart kid with complex ideas. He’s doing business with executives and lawyers at the highest levels in Hollywood. All of the business discussions in the book are accurate. I consulted Hollywood producers in writing the book, and worked with middle schoolers in expressing the business details in fun, understandable terms.
- Take the Ride with them. Find a book the whole family can read. Buy a copy or two, and everyone in the family can read it. Boys need to see that reading is cool. The Sean Rosen books were written with both grownups and kids in mind. There’s a whole lot to talk about.
Click on FAMILY BOOK CLUB at SeanRosenBooks.com for some interesting discussion topics and family activities inspired by the books.