YA Highway has a great link list of all the various posts for those who are curious.
I find this whole debate particularly interesting because I write for MG, not YA, and I haven’t seen this. There’s no way to know for sure, but based on fan letters, book signings and school visits, a major part, if not half, of my readership is—you guessed it—boys. And I have a girl protag, in first person no less.
If you listen to the masses, boys don’t read books about girls. They certainly don’t read books with a girl protag.
Boys read my books. Boys ask questions at my school visits—a lot of questions. They tell me about the books they read. They are reading. I’ve had visits where all but a few of the students who came up after to get books signed were boys. This has happened more than once. Don’t tell me boys aren’t reading.
I don’t think the issue is that boys don’t read. I think that when they hit high school, they either stop reading or don’t read as much.
I don’t know why this might be. Part of it I’m sure has to do with the amount of home work high schoolers have. Neither girls nor boys have as much time to read as they did in middle school. It makes me wonder what the drop in reading is for both girls and boys when they hit high school. I’d bet the percentage is pretty close.
I also think that reading competes with video games more for boys than girls. Video games are, ironically enough, aimed at boys and fewer girls play them. (And this comes from a rabid female gamer) Very few of my girl friends play or played video games. You could put the same cry out for that industry. “Girls don’t play video games because they’re too boyish.”
Boys are herded toward group activities their whole lives with sports and teams, and this probably translates into video games. Is it any wonder when offered a choice, they pick the activity that lets them play with friends? That they’ll do what nearly all of their friends are talking about? Girls don’t have videos vying for their attention the same way, though it’s likely phone and social media fills the same slot.
I’ve spoken to media specialists who told me boys checked out Twilight because they wanted to know what all the fuss was about. And a lot of them went on to read the whole series. If Twilight isn’t the poster child for girl books I don’t know what is. And middle school boys read it. Makes me curious how many high school boys did too.
YA seems to be taking a beating this year, but I think that’s just because some folks like to stir up trouble, and that’s easy to do when you involve people’s kids. As others have said (and more eloquently than me I might add) I don’t think the problem is with the books or how they’re marketed. I think it’s that teens have less time to read period once they hit high school. If you took out all the adult women who also read YA, how would the number of girls stack up against the boys? I’d like to see those numbers. (And then compare them to the middle grade numbers)
Getting kids to read is a worthy pursuit and a necessary one, but I suspect the folks making the ruckus are looking in the wrong place and making the wrong assumptions. Cause I’m just not seeing a lack of boys reading—at least in my market’s age bracket.
What do you think?