Can a "Wimpy Kid" Help Encourage More Teen Boys to Read?

While running some errands today I popped into Borders at good old Southland Mall to pick up some gift cards and a book for myself.  While browsing around I came across a large display of new "comic books."  Most are from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.  Now these titles are not like comic books you may be thinking about (like Spiderman, Batman etc.)  These are actual novels or books filled with graphics and drawings.  The official term in the library/publishing world is "graphic novels," but you can see how that may be misunderstood at some times.  I do have some of the Wimpy Kid novels in the library at Carlson High School and they appear to be popular.  I actually started to read the first title in the series and found in entertaining, I just never had time to finish the book.  I plan to pick it up again soon.

There were plenty of other similar books in the display.  The Wimpy Kid Series is extremely popular (five books with the newest title Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Ugly Truth set to release next week and a feature film that brought in over 75 million dollars in revenue this year)!  There were plenty of other titles nearby that caught my eye, including the Big Nate series (mainly because my son shares a name with the main character).  Some literary "purist" may turn their noses up at these type of books, but from what I see they are pretty good.  Plus they seem to encourage reluctant readers (especially adolescent males) that normally tell me they "hate to read."  Sometimes it just takes finding an interesting title to spark a dormant reader.  That is why I try to order a variety of books for my students at Carlson.  I also subscribe to a number of popular magazines for the school library.  Anything to create interest in reading.

Any reading that is taking place is good reading!  If I decided to only read the required titles when I was in high school, I would not be reading nearly as much as I do today.  Titles like  The Scarlett Letter and The Odyssey come to mind when I think back to my days in high school, ugggh they were killers (and not in a good way).
The only thing worse than this film....yep the novel!

This is what happens to most students, they associate all books with the "classics" they were forced to read and never want to read anything again.  Believe me, as a former Language Arts teacher I know how important the classics are, I just do not want to see them kill reading in young people.  Thankfully many of my colleagues understand this and assign an outside reading project, where students are able to choose their own title.  The increase in library use in the past few years has been outstanding.  I receive recommendations from students all the time about what they want to see added to our collection and I do my best to appease their requests.  Choice, it is so important in keeping young people reading!  Now I am off to read that book I picked up today, so excited to start Catching Fire, the next title in The Hunger Games series!  Have a great weekend!

Comments

  1. My favorite bookstore is a place near my apartment called The Brookline Booksmith. Their employees keep a blog, and someone just wrote about graphic novels the other day: http://brooklinebooksmith.blogspot.com/2010/11/warning-graphic-novel-content.html. The book she describes might be a little too adult for your school library, but it sounds good.

    I'm not really a graphic novel person, but I've read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Maus by Art Spiegelman. Both were outstanding.

    Best,
    Meg

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  2. Thanks for the link, I will check it out. I do not read graphic novels too often. This series just caught my eye, as did the "Nate" titles!

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