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The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this impressive new literacy site for boys was created by father, former elementary school teacher and children's author Jon Scieszka, who wrote the best-selling fractured fairytale The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Basically a reading list for boys who don't like to read, the site's goal is to help instill a love for books by appealing to boys' special interests. Except for a handful of books by female authors, including uber-guy writer J.K. Rowling, the site is an all-male club. Some parents might object to this and the inclusion of a war category. But it's hard to argue with Scieszka's statistics and the need to help boys read better. This site is safe and fun for guys -- and gals -- of all ages to explore, ideally with parents who can help them choose a good book.
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Is it any good?
Statistical fact: Boys fall farther behind girls in reading skills every year. To address this alarming trend, dad and best-selling children's author Jon Scieszka decided to create a Web-based national literacy program for boys. Guys Read, a huge online list of books and authors recommended "by guys for guys," has boy appeal, with a bold, handsome design and frank, funny writing. Books are divided into "guy" genres, some humorous such as "at least one explosion".
Famous male authors like Daniel Handler drop in to share their favorite "guy" books. To expand reading's appeal for boys the site lists sports magazines, comics and books on tape, too. So far, so great. There's just one problem: most listings don't have a description or age level, just genre and number of pages. Without these crucial details, the recommendations aren't very useful. When this is fixed, Guys Read will be a valuable resource for parents and their book-shy sons.
Talk to your kids about ...
Some kids think reading isn't very important because they don't plan to go to college or use books in their jobs. Discuss why this is flawed thinking and all the ways we use reading every day, both practically and to enhance our lives.
Some educators believe that one reason boys dislike reading is because they can't relate to the feelings and emotions present in most popular fiction. Do kids ever feel happy, scared, angry or sad when they read? Discuss what triggers these feelings and why it's OK.
Books make for great family discussions about all sorts of issues. Take, for instance, the teachable moments in Harry Potter.