Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guys Talkin' to Guys (or This is What Makes Us Boys*)

*with apologies to Lana Del Rey

Tip of the Day: Have you seen the amazing items up for auction on Kidlit Cares, started by author Kate Messner to benefit the Red Cross and Sandy victims? (Now author Joanne Levy is helping out, too.) GO KIDLITTERS!

My favorite session that I attended at the YALSA Symposium earlier this month was "Guys Talkin' to Guys" where four teens from different high schools in St. Louis answered questions on a panel with five male YA authors.

What made this 90-minutes so great? Real live teen guys talking to librarians and authors about reading and books! It's not something that I get easily in my day job and I really enjoyed hearing what they had to say. Some of it was funny, surprising, smart, real, and/or inspiring.

Take aways:

1. Teen guys do read, but often if is in the forms of magazines, instruction manuals, sports articles, short bites of information on subjects they are already interested in.

2. Cover art and titles make a huge difference on if a guy will feel comfortable carrying around/reading a book. They don't want to be perceived as "weak" by their peers, so a book needs to look "tough." (One panelist was convinced THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER was about a girl based on the title, so he resisted reading it despite recommendations and was surprised when he finally read it.)

3. It is more acceptable to be seen going to a "girl" movie than reading a "girl" book. (Often going to the movie involves going WITH a girl, which doesn't happen with a book.)

4. Books with girl main characters are fine to read as long as the cover and title don't seem girly (THE HUNGER GAMES was cited as the perfect example of this).

5. Books have a lot to compete with, and since guys spend a lot of time online, playing video games, watching movies, playing sports, using smartphones, etc., ads for books need to be just as convincing as those for other forms of entertainment -- and as easy to come across.

6. Guys would read more, and be more comfortable seen reading a variety of books, if they were "forced" to read in groups, like as a class in school for 20-minutes a day for example. Group reading wouldn't make anyone stand out for doing it instead of something else.

What have you learned from teen guys lately?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

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