Reading is the topic of the day. Reading and boys. Reading and Asian Americans. Reading for Asian American boys?
One of my projects this summer has been to help keep my eight year old engaged in reading (20 minutes a day! says the principal). To further that end, I created an informal Boys Book Club for my son and a few of his friends. While that may sound like a lot of additional work, I see it as harnessing peer pressure to be used in a constructive direction. If I can get my kid’s friends to think reading is cool, then they will, in turn, reinforce that message back to my kid. Voila!
So devious, and yet it still sounds rather altruistic. The boys — at first three, and now up to four, with a possible fifth memeber — met every few weeks throughout the summer. They (with input from their parents) chose The Mouse and the Motorcycle as their first book. The format worked like this: the boys read part of the book at home, then we met together and took turns reading aloud and talking about the story. Afterwards, the kids got to eat homemade cookies and run wild in our house for an hour.
As I was stumbling around the Internet, one of the featured WordPress blogs was GuysRead, a blog created by children’s author Jon Scieszka that promotes literacy among boys and even has cool downloadable stickers and bookmarks and ideas for starting your own Guys Read book club.
One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that once you stumble upon something, there are all these links coming off of it that are also things of interest.
Book Dragon is a wonderful blog created by Terry Hong and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American program. The website has reviews of the entire body of work of Asian American writers. Seriously. To make things easier to peruse, there are categories — not just Chinese and Japanese, but everything from Iraqi to Hmong, including Taiwanese and Hapa.
One more thing! (added Friday 8/6/10) You might also enjoy Hyphen Magazine’s article Teens First, Asian Americans Second. Lisa Wong Macabasco addresses a really interesting shift in Asian American literature, particularly young adult titles, in that they are not the culture-clash novels of Amy Tan or Maxine Hong Kingston, but stories in which the character’s Asian-ness is just part of the background, and not necessarily the crux of the story. I think I’ll be revisiting this topic again in the future…
I hope this inspires you (and your kids) to do some reading!