by Jenine Lillian, MLIS Day
In my work before the iSchool program, I noticed a gap for books and services that would engage the 8-12 age group in active literacy and a love of reading. Long before this age group was referred to as "tweens" there were concerned folks like myself who were trying to make a difference little by little. E.L. Konigsburg was the first juvenile author to refer to this unique age group as "the middle aged child" and every one of her stellar works has had something for them in it. Even now, this is a tough age to be in and teachers, parents, and librarians alike are noticing the boys in particular with concern and a drive to help them succeed and read. The issue of boys lagging behind girls in nearly every subject and nearly every grade is a 30+ year old problem. But what can we do about it?
This was the motivation behind my independent study and workshop on Boys and Books: encouraging boys ages 9-13 to read. I had to narrow the focus to a specific age group in order to effectively research and present resources to teachers, parents, and librarians. I was awarded a scholarship to attend a seminar given by Barb Sanders in Bellevue this May entitled Bringing Boys and Books Together: Strategies That Engage Boys In Literacy. Barb became an instant comrade and allowed me to make a quick announcement to the audience about my research and upcoming workshop. As a result, I was able to reach an audience that I would not otherwise have met and for this, I am thankful.
The workshop I presented took place on Saturday, May 21st from 11am-1pm and involved an audience of 35 people: teachers, parents, grandparents, child care providers, school librarians, public librarians, and iSchool students. The workshop would not have enjoyed such success if not for the support of many people in and supporters of the library community in Seattle. The fact that participants made time in their busy schedules to attend on their weekend day off, no less, has not escaped my notice and it is, I believe, an indication of the need for this topic to be covered and resources to be shared. And, for this reason, I created a Web-based resource packet that I hope will be useful to people looking for information on the subject. For more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep up the good work of helping our guys read.