School Literacy and Boys: Another Disconnect

Battle Bunny

Once in a great while a story comes along that blows the doors off the genre of picture books.

Battle Bunny is that book.  But not because my students (mostly boys) loved it.

This book is a brilliant commentary on the disconnect between literacy and boys.

Why?

Battle Bunny is really two stories. One is a spot on basil reader. For the uninitiated: basils are normally anti-action, blasé stories no self respecting author would put their name on. (But reading textbooks are littered with them.)

Scribbled into the book we find the second story; and it’s everything many boys love about cartoons and comic books (that publishers wouldn’t dream of putting in basil readers).

I can’t do this justice without showing you. So…

It starts like a basil. It’s cute. It’s clean. It’s SO “G” rated that I’m going to either fall asleep or be sick!

Battle Bunny inside 1

Then, “Alex” – the boy who owns the book – starts changing the story by writing and drawing on it.

Battle Bunny inside 2

Then he goes nuts, turning this boring tale into an epic adventure staring Alex!

Battle Bunny inside 3

Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett transform lame into AWESOME! In the process they amply illustrate why many boys couldn’t care less about school literacy.

It’s a message that scholars (see: DysonFletcher and Newkirk) have been touting for over a decade, but basil publishers are hesitant to act on.

The time is ripe. Thousands of  other “Alexs” are waiting for us to narrow the gap between literacy and boys… BRING IT!

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