BLACK OPS BOOKS

shutterstock_3125011Not all kids love reading, some are actively against it (I have one of each) but we all need to read to be able to do other stuff (like learn, fill out forms) as well as disappear into the wonderful world of a story. While there are girls out there who would also rather not read, it is a much bigger problem for our boys and we need to be inventive, even sneaky about how to entice them into reading.

For most of my publishing (and mothering) career, I’ve been looking at ways to engage boys in books and one of my biggest lessons has been to just start them reading anything. Comics, the backs of cereal boxes, footy cards – they’re all putting one word next to another. Just as the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, so too might the road to War and Peace start with a less ‘booky’, or what I’m calling ‘black ops’ book.  What makes a ‘black ops’ book? Lots of cool pictures, quick grabs rather than long paragraphs and, ideally funny, weird, technical or gross stuff, ideally a combination of all. Above all, it’s a book they don’ t think is a ‘real’ book.

Here are some to start a list – help me add to it!

  • Guinness World Records – filled with stats, facts and more gross-outs than is probably a good idea, this gets boys reading without them know it, motivated by the understandable need to know just how heavy the world’s largest meatball is (530.71 Kg), the fastest time to sort 30 jelly babies with chopsticks (40 seconds) and the most slam dunks by aparrot in one minute (22). And there’s a new one every year!

  • The Encyclopedia of Immaturity – Subtitled ‘How to Never Grow Up’ and including such invaluable topics such as ‘How to Stick a Pencil in Your Ear’ and the companion piece, ‘How to take it back out of your nose’, this book is laugh-out loud funny and informative.  How to skip stones, how to fake sneeze, how to look like you are carrying your head in your hands and another 295 equally essential and illustrated topics will get kids turning the pages.

  • The Lego Book – The only time I don’t like LEGO is when I am stepping on a brick. The rest of the time I love their cleverness – and the cleverness it inspire in kids. Who doesn’t have photo of their child standing, beaming with pride, with their LEGO creation? And if your boy would rather be building than reading, here’s the ultimate compromise. Jam-packed with photos of amazing models, facts and trivia, this book has everything anyone ever wanted to know about LEGO and then some.
  • And if you want the ultimate boys’ favourites mash-up book, there’s LEGO Star Wars Visual Dictionary!

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