May 2007 Issue
It's not mentioned in the same breath with, say, rock climbing or riding a dirt bike, but, yes, reading can be a guy thing. That's the consensus at Delhi Middle School in Cincinnati. The All Guys Book Clubs, consisting of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, celebrate the printed word in style.
Head librarian Sandra Lingo came up with the idea for the clubs several years ago when she was an eighth-grade teacher at the school.
"Guys didn't read and they didn't want to read," Lingo recalls. "In fact, they were kind of embarrassed to read."
A teacher for 20 years, she had already discovered that girls show more of an interest in books than boys do. "It's more acceptable in girl culture to read," explains Lingo. "When I decided to start book clubs for boys, I'd ask who wanted to join, and the boys would kind of look at each other. You could tell they were embarrassed about it. Now, however, it's a cool thing to do."
Lingo was not to be deterred in her mission. She added incentives, including field trips to see films based on the books they read. Food also sweetened the deal. "They're starving at the end of the day," Lingo says. "I wanted to make it so attractive to join that kids will say, â€˜you're nuts if you don't belong to one of the clubs.'"
The clubs were so popular that girls asked Lingo to start a series for them. The All Gals Book Clubs encompass students in the same grades. "When the girls asked, â€˜why don't we get a club?' I couldn't say it was because you already read," Lingo says.
Lingo estimates 200 students participate in the clubs, a little over half of whom are boys. Each participant reads eight to 10 books a year.
"We're drawing from a broad spectrum of our students," Lingo says. "I want to include not just kids who are good readers and get good grades, but those who don't like to read and don't have good grades."
Although Lingo selects the books, she welcomes input from the students. "Boys don't like books they say have a lot of whining," she says. "They don't want a lot of emotion. They want action."