When people talk about reluctant readers, they almost always refer to boys. The number of boys who choose reading as a voluntary activity is decreasing.
The Spirit Animal series, published by Scholastic beginning in 2013. I’ve only read the first one, Wild Born, by Brandon Mull. (Put a bear on the cover and I’ll pick it up.) Hint: I found the number of character names confusing so I had to return to the beginning and keep a list.
The book comes with a code “to unlock huge rewards” in the game at spiritanimals.com I can’t tell you about the game other than, as a parent, I’d tend to trust Scholastic. And maybe with the game and visuals, the names wouldn’t be so confusing.
If a kid is just going to read the book, pay attention to and remember the names of the four main characters who are introduced in the first four chapters—two boys and two girls, the names of their spirit animals, and the names of the Greencloaks. There are only a couple of other names out of sixty I wrote down that resurface in this story. (But perhaps they do in later books.)
I didn’t think the writing was great, but I could see a kid having fun with the adventure of the books and the game.
Chris Rylander’s, The Fourth Stall, (the first in a series) published by Walden Pond Press in 2011. I heard Chris speak a couple of years ago and was very impressed. His goal is to write books he wishes he’d had available to him as a kid. Good reason!
Mac (who reminded me of a machine boss) starts a booming business at his school helping other kids with their problems. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some difficult problems himself. The book is humorous, but my funny bone was only mildly tickled (see above re: title and not the target audience).
For young adults who like adventure, I recommend the adult nonfiction Blind Descent. This book by James M. Tabor, published in 2010 by Random House, is a fascinating account of two very different teams of cave explorers trying to find the deepest cave in the world.
I was stunned to learn how many kinds of danger super caves present. People crawl through spaces that are unbelievably tight, cliffs plunge hundreds of feet, multiple tunnels dead end. Imagine diving into dark water to look for a drain hole that could lead you further along a submerged tunnel.
This type of exploration has been compared to climbing Everest backwards, but with even less chance of rescue if you get into trouble. The cavers can be as isolated with as much chance of getting help as the Sandra Bullock character in Gravity. Who ya gonna call?
This book had me riveted—twice.
To read more: Porter Anderson wrote a Feb. post on boys and books. It’s a bit long, but interesting and he adds pieces from other people. You can find him at thoughtcatalog.com
With thanks to Elizabeth Spann Craig and her tweets about info for writers.