Over the weekend, my sister and I got to hang out with our older cousin, who is actually more like our sister. She has son who is ten years old and really, really, really into hockey. This kid is dedicated. Hockey all the time. His favorite movies are The Mighty Ducks movies (2, 3, and then 1). The boy loves hockey.
He’s also really smart. He already has his top four colleges picked out (Yale is his first choice). He’s especially good at math, much better than I’ll ever be. He likes to ask me these really hard multiplication and addition questions to see if I can figure them out in my head (I can’t). Then this ten-year-old gets to feel superior to me and I remind him that I have a phone with a calculator so I don’t need to know math in my head but he doesn’t care.
But when we were hanging out with our cousin, the question of what he likes to read came up. Jenn, his mom, answered, “He likes to read hockey books.”
Now, me being me, my first instinct was to start rambling off all these books that I’d loved when I was his age. Danger on Panther Peak, The Indian in the Cupboard, Summer of the Monkeys… I liked other books too, like every book ever written by Judy Blume, but I knew those were geared more toward girls and my little cousin is a guy’s guy, through and through.
However, as I was listing off books that I thought of as more gender neutral, Jenn informed me that he found those books either too boring or too whimsical. Apparently, he doesn’t like magic, nor does he like violence, nor any scenario where a bunch of kids get lost in the woods.
Jenn then went on to point out something that I had never considered before. There are plenty, and I do mean plenty, of coming-of-age young adult novels geared toward girls. Even those written by authors like John Green are more likely to appeal to young women than young men.
Like I said, I grew up a very girly girl with a little sister and lot of female cousins, so I never really considered the idea that there are SO many books like that out there for girls but hardly any for boys. I hypothesized that was because most young adult authors are women, and that those were the kind of books we like to read, but as Jenn pointed out, that makes something of a perpetual cycle. If we’re the only ones reading these kinds of books, then we’re the ones who write them and of course, gear them toward other young female readers. She also pointed out that statistics show that boys are more likely to read nonfiction than girls. Not a bad thing, but something interesting to consider.
At the end of our conversation, Jenn told me, “You should write a YA book for boys.” Interesting idea, but I’d be the worst person for the job. I don’t know really interests boys. Well, except hockey apparently. But unfortunately, the things that would interest boys really don’t interest me. Therefore, I think any book I’d write would be really disappointing for all parties involved.
Therefore, I am extending this idea to all the guy writers I know. If you’re not sure what your next project should be, write a book for your ten-to-twelve year-old self. Write a series for boys to get excited about, the way thirteen-year-old girls get excited about the next Meg Cabot book. Write a book that connects with them and makes the want to read. Apparently, the world is in short supply.