Glenn Beck and Books for Boys

Let me start by identifying my biases.

A) I am not a Glenn Beck fan, he is loud and obnoxious, and even if I very occasionally agree with him I do not like how he gets there.

B) One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is when people in the media are shilling a book, or discussing children’s and YA lit and it becomes crystal clear they have no idea what they are talking about.

Bookshelves of Doom brought me to Guys Lit Wire where there was a thoughtful post, and some thoughtful comments on a Glenn Beck segment on books for boys.

So what is wrong with this? Well let me count the ways.

1) There has already been quite a bit said about the emasculating comment. There are a number of books in which boys are heroes, who are strong, and who experience adventure. Quite often there is a girl by their side, is that all it takes to be emasculating? For example: Percy Jackson series, or how about Alex Rider? John Flanagan’s The Ranger Apprentice? And of course – Harry Potter. His statement belies an ignorance about the depth and richness of the field.

2) Value and virtue are buzzwords that always make me say “uh-oh” because they are usually followed by an attack on YA lit as if there are no values and virtues. As if it is not only vapid, but immoral. And quite often they are in the mouths of someone getting ready to request the removal of books from a classroom or a library. Now that is a gross generalization and I know it, but I cannot resist that knee-jerk reaction. I am merely going to give myself credit for recognizing it as knee-jerk.

3) “I know this is for teenagers. I read it cover to cover.” is one of the most insulting attitudes out there. As if something written for teenagers cannot possibly be of interest to adults, and yet why do we not consider the converse – that something written for adults cannot possibly be interesting to teens? Because we know that is not remotely true.

4) Attacks on political correctness seem outdated to me. It seems as if our children have moved beyond the concerns of political correctness, not hesitating to believe that girls and boys can fight side by side, bringing their own strength to the adventure. Again – Harry Potter and Hermione are fully realized characters with their own strengths, and without each of them Harry would not have been successful time and again. (BTW – I never read Book 7 because well, I didn’t want to, lets leave it at that.)

5) Treasure Island????? Still in print. Not sure about the other one he mentioned.

6) I could be wrong, and I don’t remember how old Beck’s kid is, but the art work strikes me as something for a younger child – not a teen. BUT I haven’t read the book so it is completely unfair of me to judge it out of context.

7) Ok the whole brother not saving the sister anymore?????? I have no other way to say this – that is a load of crap. Go take a look at the books I’ve mentioned – those are about boys doing the saving. Yes like Harry and Buffy they had a team, but they are still the hero. Oh and what about Airborn? Another boy adventure book – pirates, adventure. And yes the girl is feisty and helpful but Matt is the protagonist, the hero.

8) No great storytellers anymore?  You mean like Philip Pullman (oops sorry Lyra is a girl), or JK Rowling (again I have my issues but I figure she is an author Beck might be familiar with).

I have degenerated into nothing more than disbelief and aggravation.

There is a conversation at Guy’s Lit Wire that may be worth reading.

As a disclaimer – I have not read the book in question so this is NOT about the book, more about my ongoing frustration with media types who in an effort to promote a children’s book wind up doing a disservice to some fine authors and books.

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