Okay, maybe a little extreme in the title of this post, but sometimes I wonder. Seeing a teenage boy reading is about as rare as seeing them clean their rooms without being asked. I’ve worked several book fairs at my sons’ schools in my day and it’s mainly girls that are buying the books. My sons, ages 17 and 13, were read to almost from the day they were born and, despite my best efforts, they aren’t really readers. With all the friends of theirs that go through our house in what seems like a revolving door sometimes, I can count on one hand how many of them read for pleasure and not just required reading for school. You may find my 17-year-old reading a Men’s Health magazine looking at weight-lifting workouts, Sports Illustrated, or, in January, the coveted and highly revered Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (although I’m pretty sure he’s just looking at the pics in that one). Other than that, he’s read a few soccer books and some classics he was forced to read for AP English class. My 13-year-old has a deep love of graphic novels – Dragon Ball Z, Bleach, and most recently, Walking Dead, and blows through any money he receives for allowance, birthdays, etc. buying them. I tried to get him to read The Hunger Games (one of my favorites), but he had no interest, although he loved the movie.
However, I recently came across a series of books that drew him in immediately and, what’s even better, we’ve read the series together and actually had book discussions – a definite rarity in my house. The Elemental Series, by Brigid Kemmerer, is composed of two books and three novellas so far, with a third book scheduled for release in 2013. In short, the series is about four brothers who are extremely powerful because they can control the elements of fire, water, earth, and wind. With power like that, you just know they can’t live happily ever after – naturally, someone is after them. What about this wouldn’t appeal to a teenage boy? At my house, we’re huge fans of all super heroes (absolutely loved The Avengers this past summer), so you can see why my son and I were interested. In addition to that storyline (and this isn’t giving anything away), the oldest brother, Michael, fought for custody of the three younger brothers after the deaths of their parents, so the family dynamics are a little dysfunctional at times (whose aren’t?). The books do an excellent job of demonstrating the overwhelming responsibility Michael feels as he tries to be both parent and brother to the other three, as well as capturing the teenage feelings of angst, guilt, worthlessness, self-doubt, and stirrings of first love among the younger brothers.
Action, adventure, some romance, authentic dialogue – if your son (or daughter) isn’t interested, try them yourself – I thought they were great.
Next week – a special Halloween topic. Who likes vampires? Anyone? Anyone?