1st Edition

Boy Writers Reclaiming Their Voices

By Ralph Fletcher Copyright 2006

    Writing test scores indicate that boys have fallen far behind girls across the grades. In general, boys don't enjoy writing as much as girls. What's wrong? How can we do a better of job of creating boy-friendly classrooms so their voices can be heard? In Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices Ralph Fletcher draws upon his years of experience as staff developer, children's book author, and father of four boys. He also taps the insights from dozens of writing teachers around the US and abroad. Boy Writers asks teachers to imagine the writing classroom from a boy's perspective, and consider specific steps we might take to create stimulating classrooms for boys. Topic choice emerges as a crucial issue. The subjects many boys like to write about (war, weapons, outlandish fiction, zany or bathroom humor) often do not get a warm reception from teachers. Fletcher argues that we must widen the circle and give boys more choice if we want to engage them as writers. How? We must begin by recognizing boys and the world in which they live. Boy Writers explores important questions such as:

      What subjects are boy writers passionate about, and what motivates them as writers? Why do boys like to incorporate violence into their stories, and how much should be allowed? Why do we so often misread and misunderstand the humor boys include in their stories?
    In addition, the book looks at: how handwriting can hamstring boy writers, and how drawing may help; welcoming boy-friendly writing genres in our classrooms; ways to improve our conferring with boys; and more. Each chapter begins with a thorough discussion of a topic and ends with a highly practical section titled: "What can I do in my classroom?" Boy Writers does not advocate promoting the interests of boys at the expense of girls. Rather, it argues that developing sensitivity to the unique facets of boy writers will help teachers better address the needs of all their students.

    Chapter 1: The Trouble with Boys; Chapter 2: Failure to Thrive; Chapter 3: The Gender Filter; Chapter 4: Rules of (Dis)Engagement; Chapter 5: Vanishing Act: The Matter of Choice; Chapter 6: Violent Writing; Chapter 7: Humor; Chapter 8: Handwriting; Chapter 9: Classroom Conversation; Chapter 10: Writing Conferences; Chapter 11: A Dialogue with Carl Anderson; Chapter 12: Sticks and Stones: Language Issues; Chapter 13: Drawn to the Page; Chapter 14: Help Wanted: Writing Genres That Appeal to Boys; Chapter 15: Boy-Friendly Territory; Chapter 16: Dramatic Transformations; Chapter 17: Boys and Writing: Persnickety Questions; Chapter 18: A Personal Note


    Ralph Fletcher is a friend of young writers and readers as well as writing teachers. He has written or co-authored many books for writing teachers including Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide, Teaching the Qualities of Writing, Lessons for the Writer’s Notebook, Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices, and Pyrotechnics on the Page: Playful Craft That Sparks Writing. Ralph has worked with teachers around the U.S. and abroad, helping them find wiser ways of teaching writing. Ralph’s many books for students include picture books (Twilight Comes Twice, Hello Harvest Moon, and The Sandman), novels (Fig Pudding, Flying Solo, and Spider Boy), poetry (A Writing Kind of Day and Moving Day), and a memoir, Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid. His novel Uncle Daddy was awarded the Christopher medal in 2002. He has also written a popular series of books for young writers including Poetry Matters, Live Writing, and A Writer's Notebook. Ralph lives with his family in New Hampshire. He is a strong environmentalist who believes we all must work together to live in a more sustainable way. His other passions include travel, good food, dark chocolate, growing orchids, and sports.

    "Although classroom teachers should find Fletcher's advice especially thought-provoking and useful, Boy Writers is written for a broader audience, including parents, teacher educators, literacy advocates and perhaps even policy makers and boys themselves." - Education Review
    "A good read and well worth the time and money. Boy Writers would be good for teachers looking for a staff development study around gender-specific teaching strategies or writing improvement." - Teacher Learners Network
    "Fletcher's book will surely keep me returning to his ideas time and time again. This book must be read by teachers (both male and female) in order to reach our boy writers." - RecycleYourReads.com