Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Book Review: Bright Beginnings for Boys

Whenever our library advertises a book about raising boys, I jump at the chance to read the book. Add in that the book is about increasing literacy, and I'm jumping even higher. I have three boys who are not nearly as fond of reading as I am (although one would say he enjoys a good book, but would still prefer to be read to instead of doing the work himself). Since my boys often see me reading, I know that I am already laying that groundwork of a good example, but I wondered what else I could do to increase their literacy skills.

In Bright Beginnings for Boys: Engaging Young Boys in Active Literacy, authors Debby Zambo and William G. Brozo present a text-book style manual for increasing literacy in young boys. Most of the information followed common sense: let them see you reading, seek out books which appeal to their particular interests, encourage them to find good books, and be cognizant of the special physical needs of boys (energy and curiosity). The book is aimed at both parents and educators. The first few chapters focus on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of boys. There is a chapter addressing ways to create a classroom climate which meets the special needs of boys and one on matching literacy activities to boys' interests.

I think the most helpful resource in the book is a  fourteen page appendix listing books that demonstrate positive values for boys. Many books are suggested for teaching the values of cooperation, courage, generosity, honesty, perseverance, respectfulness, responsibility, and tolerance. All of the book suggestions, while entertaining and educational for both sexes, bear special appeal to boys. I was thrilled to see books I recognized by Kate DiCamillo, Kate Klise, M. Thaler, Tedd Arnold, Natalie Babbitt, and Cynthia Rylant, but many more by authors I am unfamiliar with and titles that sounded intriguing (each listing presents the author, title, and a brief description of the book).

The book also includes an extensive fourteen page list of references which could be culled to discover many more helpful articles and books on the subject. I believe this book will be especially valuable to elementary school teachers who are interested in promoting literacy in their classrooms. They will find a wealth of information for encouragement, questions to ponder for increasing literacy in their classrooms, and plenty of suggestions for great teaching literature. I also noted, from the back cover, that William G. Brozo has another book available, To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader: Engaging Teen and Preteen Boys in Active Literacy. I think I will need to search out that book for suggestions for my own boys, since their literacy levels are leaning toward the pre-teen category. Moreover, I would be thrilled if that book also contains listings of suggestions for great tween and YA literature.

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