If your son is as active as mine this summer, you may also be worried about the lack of energy that’s applied to books. And reading more is what most teachers recommend over the summer to keep up with the learning done the rest of the year. Are your kids reading enough this summer? I wish mine were, so I looked for ideas and found a great response from Jeff Baron. An accomplished playwright, screenwriter and novelist, he is the author of a series of books that are being devoured by boys, and he has a few great suggestions to get your boys to read this summer.
It’s about content
I struggle finding books that both of my kids would like to read, so we can read together. Tastes differ, as we are discovering. Boys like smart, funny books about boys like them, and there just aren’t that many out there. The “Wimpy Kid” diaries is one example. Jeff Baron too 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”, are being read voraciously by boys and being passed along to friends.
So if you find something that your son likes, go with it – if he’s interested in the content, he’s more likely to read it. If the book is about something relatable – a boy like him – the interest will be that much higher.
Baron says you should make him feel or be a decision maker:
“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.”
We always have a lot of books in the house – from the local library, the school library, books we buy, and gifts. Giving kids the choice is going to make them enjoy books that much more.
We tend to quickly like the books we can relate to. Baron suggests books that reflect your son’s 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.”
Jeff says they weren’t planning to put a picture of Sean Rosen on the cover since he’s never described in the book –
“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.
Baron’s 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
I find my son’s ever so growing sense of humor really entertaining. Baron confirms,
“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.”
In addition to being entertained, boys like to be challenged, says Jeff, 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,” says Baron.
Take the Ride with them
Finally, reading can be more fun together. I love rediscovering some of the books I read as a child. Baron says this:
“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. Click on FAMILY BOOK CLUB at SeanRosenBooks.com for some interesting discussion topics and family activities inspired by the books.