Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries Can Do

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Pre-adolescent boys are nearly invisible in libraries. With ever-increasing electronic amusements, how can books and the library compete for their attention?

In Connecting Boys with Books, librarian and educator Michael Sullivan provides the tools that librarians, school library media specialists, and educators need to overcome cultural and developmental challenges, stereotyping, and lack of role models that essentially program boys out of the library. Attracting boys to library programs in the "tween" years will go a long way in maintaining their interest in books and reading over a lifetime, creating good habits from a young age.

Sullivan's practical and proven programming builds on the unique developmental needs and interests of boys in this middle stage, including:

  • Finding and promoting male readers as role models
  • Using the power of chess, games, and other challenging (and competitive) activities
  • Encouraging physical responses to books in a way that spells "fun" to boys
  • Talking about books so boys will be enticed to listen
  • Reaching out with stories that resonate with boys at this stage
  • Enhancing boys' ongoing journeys by encouraging independent reading

From playing chess to swathing the walls in butcher paper to give boys a physical space to respond to books, Sullivan's practical ideas and developmentally astute insights show librarian and teacher colleagues how to make vitally needed connections with this underserved population.


Chapter 1: Lost Boys
Chapter 2: Reaching Out to Boys and Men
Chapter 3: It's Still about Books
Chapter 4: From Story Hour to Independent Reading
Chapter 5: Chess, Games, and Challenges
Chapter 6: The Power of Stories
Chapter 7: Reading, Talking, and Promoting Books

Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan is the author of Connecting Boys With Books (American Library Association, 2003), The Fundamentals of Children's Service (American Library Association, 2005), Connecting Boys With Books 2: Closing the Reading Gap (American Library Association, 2009), the Escapade Johnson series of children's books and the juvenile fantasy The Sapphire Knight (PublishingWorks, 2009). He has spoken widely on the topics of boys and reading, library administration, and the future of public libraries. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in Boston, MA. He has won a U.S. Conference of Mayors City Livability Award, the Mom's Choice Award for juvenile fiction, and was the 1998 New Hampshire Librarian of the Year. Sullivan earned his master's degree in library and information science from Simmons College.

"...offers suggestions to balance the ratio."
—American Libraries

"The writing is engaging and well researched, with footnotes at the end of each chapter. We've all read articles and studies lamenting the loss of boys in the library, and this is a practical look at ways to try to change that."
—School Library Journal

"An experienced librarian, Sullivan provides numerous suggestions that librarians (as well as parents) can use to encourage pre-adolescent boy to read. I especially like his comments about books that appeal to boys' sense of humor."
—Children's Literature Association Quarterly

" important book for children's and young adult librarians to help them reach the often undeserved population of boys...providing solid ground for creative librarians to experiment with their own programming ideas...His recommendations, however, can only strengthen public library programs and services by helping librarians to draw in kids of both genders whose interests and temperaments may fall outside a library's usual scope of service."BR> —Library Journal

"Connecting Boys with Books gets off to a good start and keeps going...Well written, organized, and inclusive, this book would be a valuable addition to the professional collection of any librarian."
—Christian Library Journal