Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Blue Star

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The Blue Star

by Tony Earley

The Blue Star by Tony Earley X
The Blue Star by Tony Earley
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 304 pages
    Aug 2009, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

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About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Back in the early '90s I owned a bookstore and often heard parents bemoan the lack of good books for young boys. Had Mr. Earley's books been in print at the time, I would have been hand-selling them like hotcakes to adults and teens, both boys and girls. Now, almost two decades later, I'm going to be sure my grandchildren read Mr Earley's books.

Teenage Boys and Reading: Did you know?

In 2005, The Washington Post published an article titled "Why Johnny Won't Read" that explored a worrisome trend:

"From 1992 to 2002, the gender gap in reading by young adults widened considerably. In overall book reading, young women slipped from 63 percent to 59 percent, while young men plummeted from 55 percent to 43 percent."

The figures quoted come from a survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, "Reading at Risk: a Survey of Literary reading in America".

The study further states:

"At the middle school level, the kind of quality literature that might appeal to boys has been replaced by Young Adult Literature that is easy-to-read, short novels about teenagers and problems such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorced parents and bullying."

Does it matter that so many of our young men are not reading? Many people think it does including BoysRead, an organization of parents, educators, librarians, mentors, authors and booksellers whose mission it is to transform boys into lifelong readers, who quote the following figures:

  • America's boys are the most violent in the industrialized world.
  • 50% of all minority male students drop out of school.
  • 87% of boys play explicitly violent video games.
  • 92% of convicted violent felons are male.

Increasing the rate of male literacy is not the full solution, but it is certainly part of the solution.

While on the subject, many feel that overall adult literacy is in need of a significant boost if the USA is to remain viable in the industrialized world. In 2002, 44% of adults claimed not to have read any sort of book in the past year and well over half had not read any literature - a significant downward trend of 4-7% points versus a decade earlier.

Article by Vy Armour

This article was originally published in April 2008, and has been updated for the August 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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