Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: Pam Allyn's The Best Books For Boys

Author: Pam Allyn
Title: Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives
Publisher: Scholastic Teaching Resources (May 1, 2011)
Audience: Educators/Librarians/Parents
Source: Copy for Review

Description from GoodReads
Get all boys reading with this extraordinary guide—chock-full of a wide range of must-read titles organized by interest, age, and development. With this resource in hand, you'll never again struggle to find the right book for even your most reluctant readers. The carefully chosen book selections are accompanied by brief explanations of each book, and a recurring feature, Talk About It, will help you extend the book through conversation, supporting and enhancing the reading experience. In addition, ready-to-use lessons align with themes and topics of special interest to boys that will motivate and inspire them to read more. Finally, Pam answers your most pressing questions about the challenges for boys as readers and shows you how you can maximize environments, routines, and structures to ensure that boys are reading widely and passionately. For use with Grades K-8.


I must admit that I was slow in discovering Pam Allyn and her wonderful work to support literacy not just here in the United States but also globally.  My staff and I did our best (despite some District events) to celebrate World Read Aloud Day (March 9, 2011).  With a goal to increase student literacy and love for books, how could we not try to participate in some way?  And yet, I'm glad to have discovered Allyn, her books, and her passion for Global Literacy.


So when I was asked to review Allyn's new book - Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives - it was easy to say yes.  While I was reading the book, I couldn't help but think about teachers that I would like to give a copy to.  This practical resource for parents, teachers, librarians or anyone who cares about children and reading looks at why a book like this was needed as well as provides very practical ways to encourage and support reading with boys.

The book opens with an introduction, and if you tend to skim through introductions or think they aren't important, I encourage you to read this one.  Throughout the whole introduction, I wanted to verbally voice my agreements with her statements and observations.  I nearly cried at the story of Sammy who developed pride in his reading and shouted an emphatic agreement when Allyn indicated that "we need a Title IX for the classroom to equalize the gender opportunities for all..." (p. 8)

And I loved this explanation Allyn gives as to part of the purpose of the book:

"In this book, I will share with you the critical elements for helping boys build confidence, feel like contributing members of a reading world, and stretch the rope so that they can make progress in leaps and bounds." (p. 7)

Within the Key Question and Answer section, Allyn talks about the READ (Ritual, Environment, Access, Dialogue) Model and answers some very important questions about boys and reading.  I am already thinking about how I can use this section of the book as part of a discussion with the teachers that I work with.

As if it wasn't enough for the introduction and first two sections to have information that will just resonate with those who have spent any time with boys.  The final section is an amazing K-8 reading list in annotated bibliography format with talking points for specific books.  Each category looks at books for emerging readers, developing readers, and maturing readers.  The list is filled with old favorites and many new titles.  After reading the book, I find myself wanting to go back to read titles that I have missed or to keep referring the book to every teacher that I know (and librarians too).

If you are looking for a gift for a teacher or a librarian or parent, I would highly recommend Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives. I know that I will be handing out copies of this to both new and experienced teachers.

For more information about Pam Allyn, check out the following websites -

Her official website:  http://pamallyn.com/
Or her LitWorld page: http://litworld.org/
Or her LitLife page: http://litlifeinfo.com/

Friend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pamallyn

Follow her on Twitter: @pamallyn

To purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, please go here: http://tinyurl.com/3mmfpwb

From July 1-7, 2011, you also have a chance to win a copy of Pam Allyn's book.  For details, click here.

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