Where Are All the American Boy Books?

I was talking with the most excellent finslippy, whose son is getting ready to enter middle school. He is (as any sane person would be) a little nervous about it. So where, she wondered, were the boy books about getting ready for middle school?

And I realized: I had no idea.

And that's a problem, because while advice books may not be perfect, they're reassuring to read for the nervous and anxious among us. Chestnut read this over and over and over the summer after 5th grade, and it really helped her. But it's true that these are almost all pitched directly at girls. And why is there no boy equivalent? Do publishers think boys don't read? Boys read. Do they think boys aren't nervous? (They can't possibly think that, right?) Do they think boys don't like quizzes and advice books? All I'll say is that my nephews (who aren't yet in 5th grade, but are still, you know, guys) were raptly involved when their cousins were administering the "What kind of cupcake are you?" quiz.

So what gives?  How can this be? And does anyone know of a book for this kid to read—a book about starting middle school, that's not explicitly for girls? Put it in the comments.

13 thoughts on “Where Are All the American Boy Books?

  1. I haven’t read any of these, but about five minutes of Googling produced the following books, all gender-neutral:
    Middle School: The Real Deal by Juliana Farrell and Beth Mayall.
    Help! I’m in Middle School… How Will I Survive? by Merry L. Gumm.
    The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School by Robin Epstein.
    Middle School Confidential series by Annie Fox (first book is Be Confident in Who You Are)
    The Middle School Student’s Guide to Ruling the World! by Susan Mulcaire
    Too Old for This, Too Young for That!: Your Survival Guide for the Middle School Years by Harriet S. Mosatche Ph.D. and Karen Unger


  2. I hear you, but these are all by women. One of the nice things about the American Girls book—though I suppose it is one of the problematic things as well—is that it’s got a by girls, for girls vibe. So they can talk about what to do if you get your period in class with a sense of privacy, almost. I think it’s great that there are these “for everyone” versions, but I wonder about the ones for boys in particular.


  3. What about the James Patterson middle school series? My 10-year old runs straight to that section of the library each time we visit.


  4. Yes, those are fun, but novels, not the straight up: Here’s what to do if a girl tries to kiss you at a party. Which, to me, seems like it would be helpful. But I don’t have a boy, so I don’t know. One of my kids loved advice books, the other (violently) eschewed them, and probably all kids have these divisions?


  5. Well, the Worst Case Survival Handbook has Ben H. Winter as a co-author and has a section specifically for boys, so there’s that. As for the rest of what you’re looking for, does it have to specifically be a guide to middle school? There are books like The Teenage Guy’s Survival Guide by Jeremy Daldry that are aimed at boys that age that cover boy-specific stuff, including social-emotional stuff, not just body changes.


  6. This came up daily, if not hourly, back in my library/bookstore days. I hated having to tell parents that it didn’t exist. I have a sensitive little boy of my own now, and the answer makes me even sadder. There are a few books (Puberty Boy, The Boys Guide to Becoming a Teen, all the Madaras books, and the Body Book for Boys) that do a decent job of talking about puberty and body-related stuff, but I never once saw any non-fiction aimed at middle school boys about social issues, etc. The need is so great. It still baffles me that publishers haven’t figured that out yet.


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