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Cool Reads for Tough Guys

How do librarians connect books to guys who don't like to read? These books offer quirky books that will hook young adult men with their stories.

Many young adult men think that reading is uncool, that books having nothing to offer them. The problem is that they've not read the right books. When assigned an excellent piece of literature, a classic book, a "tough guy" my reject it out of hand. It's considered "dumb" or lacking anything that they can relate to. Schools are filled with boys and men who find little that interests them in traditional books.

They also turn their backs on much of the young adult literature that is recommended by teachers, librarians, parents, and other adults. For years I recommended Phil Pullman's The Golden Compass. Each year the middle school boys would turn their nose up at my suggestion. Then one day, a student came in and asked if I had a copy. "Of course, right here," I replied. The book made it's way through the 8th grade class, never remaining on the shelf for long.

What happened? One of the boys had heard that his aunt had requested the book be pulled from his cousin's school library. What this incident teaches us is that non-reading guys don't lack the ability to read, they simply don't want to. Until challenged, Pullman's story was seen as just another "boring book."

Offered here is a few good books to hook non-readers.

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer
Drugs, murder, cloning, and the harvesting of clones will grab readers from the beginning. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacr n Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.

The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander
What to hand the guy who's read Tolkien? This is the book! Taran dreams of adventure, but nothing exciting ever happens to an Assistant Pig-Keeper--until his pig runs away. A chase through the woods leads Taran far from home and into great danger, for evil prowls the land of Prydain. With a collection of strange and wonderful friends whom he meets on his journey, Taran finds himself fighting so that good may triumph over evil--and so that his beloved home will not fall to a diabolical fiend.

Monster, by Walter Dean Myers
"Monster" is what the prosecutor called 16-year-old Steve Harmon for his supposed role in the fatal shooting of a convenience-store owner. But was Steve really the lookout who gave the "all clear" to the murderer, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? There are no easy answers. Young Steve Harmon dreams of being a film maker. He tells his story as if writing a script. The reality of prison comes through via this mental screenplay.

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