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Where Are the Books for Boys? A Conversation With Teacher Misty Jobe and Writer Will Weaver

Where are the books for boys?
"blank pages" by SlipStreamJC is licensed under creative commons

I have personally been thrilled by the amount of young adult books published in the last several years that feature protagonists that are female, persons of color and representation of different gender norms and sexual orientation-–it’s been a long time coming for these young readers to see themselves reflected in books. Books are at the heart of education. We read them leisure, life-long learning. They are ingrained into so many of our lives that it’s easy to forget that publishing books is a business. And the business is to sell books. So it was a jolt of reality when I heard Children's Librarian Tracy Kampa say last December as we were recording her latest review of children's books for What We’re Reading that "there is a shortage of books for boys."

Which brings us to our conversation today — we’re asking the question: who is being represented in new books? We are celebrating and lifting diverse voices in new books, those that have long been silenced but in doing so have we left out boys? What is the role of publishers in this? Finally, we make a lot of assumptions about boys and reading–-are any of them true?

Our guests today are right in the thick of this, we’ll be hearing from Will Weaver, the author of A Gravestone Made of Wheat, Memory Boy, and many other middle grade and young adult books, Will taught in the English Department for several years at Bemidji State University and has a great interest in literacy, particularly in keeping young adults reading. Misty Jobe is a teacher from the Brainerd area. She has taught 8th grade English for the last 18 years and has a passion for YA literature and helping kids become life- long readers.

Tammy works at Bemidji State University's library, and she hosts "What We're Reading," a show about books and authors.