In a world where young adult romance has actually spawned a genre called “sick-lit” (thanks for that, The Fault in Our Stars), thank the literary deities for Say You Will.
This is a book that I have no reservations handing over to even a younger teen (my own daughter, for example), and it is fully readable by boys as well.
I first heard about the book last fall, from Eric Walters himself – he was really excited about the book, and the whole idea of “promposals” – which I had never heard of. A promposal is an elaborate, public invite to the prom – like it wasn’t laden with enough pressure to begin with. The protagonist, Sam, is a boy with a very high IQ who is only just starting to get the hang of social interaction, who wants to create the perfect promposal for the girl of his dreams. I can’t tell you much, because it will ruin the story, however Walters not only tells a sweet love story but also makes sure to puncture as many tropes and preconceptions along the way as possible. Highly recommend this.
I now digress from this review to make a point that has been bothering me. As was brought up very eloquently in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, boys are often steered away from books that either have female protagonists, or that might be classified as romance. GIRLS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO LIKE ROMANCE. I have a couple of male customers at my store who are die-hard Harlequin lovers, and know many men, including my husband, who are fond of a good love story. (In fact, a great romantic night in can be a bottle of wine and taking turns reading The Notebook) Even books like The Hunger Games, or Divergent, I have seen parents steer away from because a female is the star, so of course their son won’t want to read it. Thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy; Clearly there must be something wrong with a boy reading a book starring a girl, or with a guy reading a love story – so he will never pick one up. This is dumb. Boys can empathize with a girl main character, and you’re selling them short by assuming they won’t. Boys dream of being the star of their own epic love story too, and Say You Will is a great one.
A question that comes up frequently at my bookstore is “How can I get my kids reading?”
As someone who loves reading, and with two daughters who love reading, I tell them what worked for me, and what has worked for friends of mine.
- Let them choose their own books. Forcing them to read something turns it into a chore. If they get to pick the book out, it will be something they actually want to read, and that makes all the difference.
- Don’t be a snob. If they want to read Dora the Explorer, or Lego Ninjas, that’s okay. Graphic novels and comic books are okay too. Just be happy that they’re reading. The important thing is that they’re exercising their imagination.
- Worried about money? Get them their very own library card. Or go to a book store that’s kid friendly, where kids are allowed to read the books there. In Canada, any of the Chapters or Indigo stores that have an IndigoKids section are like this. This also leads to the kids I see who are super-excited to go to a bookstore. And cry when they leave.
- Have a half an hour before bed be quiet time, no tv, computer, Wii, etc. Reading or drawing or colouring, or writing of their own. Also, this tends to help kids go to sleep a little more easily, I find. Unless they’re like me, and keep reading with a flashlight under the covers. There are worse things 🙂
- Try reading a story together, either both of you reading the same book, and talking about it. There are tons of great books you’ll both enjoy for ages 9+, I recommend A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Terrier by Tamora Pierce, and anything by Eric Walters. For younger kids, read them a story. Personally, I love the Chester series by Melanie Watt. It’s hilarious for kids and adults. If you need book suggestions, ask staff, or ask me!
- Carry a couple of books with you for the kids. For the doctor or dentist, car trips, etc. My mom started stocking the back seat of her car with books for my girls – they loved it!
- Try getting the same book for your child and one or two friends. Some kids are motivated by wanting to read what the other kids are reading. Your local library or book store will also know what books are on the most wanted list for your child’s age group. One trend that’s not a bad one to keep up with.
- There are websites out there like Read Kiddo Read by James Patterson (he also authors kids’ books, so this isn’t entirely selfless of him), the TD Summer Reading Club, etc. that offer suggestions for getting kids reading. Look for Silver Birch, Red Maple, Caldecott Medal, and other children’s book awards winners.
- Let them see you reading! My kids see me and my husband reading constantly. ” Maybe there’s something to this reading thing, since Mom forgets to eat, and reads instead. “
- Ask other parents what their kids loved.
- Do not be the parent who bought her thirteen-year-old daughter Fifty Shades of Grey to read. Please. No matter how mature you insist she is.
Filed under Books, Bookstore