Sunday, November 18, 2012

Believe it, Guys Still Read!

Everyone in the book business will tell you the same thing.
Most readers are women. Most books are purchased by women. Among kid readers, girls vastly outnumber boys. Media reports often claim that boys prefer video games and that many men admit that they've read no books in the last twelve months.
This is harsh news for people in my line of work. While I'm glad for my female readers, I hate to think of all those men missing out on the pleasures of a novel.
I'm exhibiting my books at the San Mateo Harvest Festival (just south of San Francisco) as I write this. A good-sized crowd of people are strolling the aisles. Like shoppers everywhere (outside of hunting and fishing stores), a majority of them are women. Many people, including men, have read my books and stop to pick up the latest title.
"Back To School" by my wife Kit Night
(scroll down to "September 21, 2011" - be patient, it takes a bit to load)

Yet I'm still thinking about guys who never read anything except the sports section.
A few minutes ago, something happened that gives me hope. Diana Millitello and her son Aaron came by. Turns out that Aaron got one of my books a year ago at the Pleasanton Harvest Festival (the east part of the East Bay and 50 miles from where we are now on the peninsula). Aaron liked my book so much that he read five of my books over the last year (They brought them all for me to sign). Today, they drove all that distance just to buy the other 5 of my titles.
What a dramatic demonstration of how much some young men love to read. And what a dramatic sign of support from a woman who is willing to drive her son that distance to support his love of reading! My hat is off to Diana! They weren't watching TV. They weren't shopping for clothes. They were focused on books!
Later, I thought about the advantages that Aaron will have as he grows up in a family that focuses on books.
There was a big study in the news a year or so ago. The study demonstrated that most measures of future success directly correlate with how many books were in a child's home. The study didn't establish causality. (Although certainly causality lurks in there,. i.e., it may be that it isn't the books that make a child do well, but the focus of parents who promote books that makes a child do well. But it's likely that books develop kids' brains in a way that TV doesn't, and that gives children who read significant advantages.) Either way, the correlation in the study was dramatic, and it wasn't just about which homes had books and which didn't. It also showed that how many books in a child's life matters, too. The more the better.
Regarding every measure of success, a person's education, job success, personal satisfaction, income, etc., the more books that were in the childhood home, the better the child did as an adult.
Many young men still read, and they, like Aaron, will have some big advantages as they grow up. My congratulations to Aaron, his mother Diana, and all parents and kids out there who recognize the value of books.
(50 miles one way to get books for your kid. Wow.)

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