Ralph Fletcher is the best-known author of books that get boys to write. Many of his books are written for boys themselves. At a recent reading conference, there were more than 500 teachers that packed the room to listen to him speak. He is gifted! If you need a book to help you motivate boys with writing – LOOK NO FURTHER! Not only did I read every single page of this book from cover to cover, I also wrote notes in the page margins on practically every page. This is how special this book is for getting boys to write.

Highlights from the book:

  • Boys’ perception that writing is soft
  • Boys would rather fail than look weak
  • The gender based difficulties boys have relating to their teachers (90% of US teachers are female)
  • Boys need a real audience. Let them share. They need a trusting community.
  • They like to write for friends.
  • Boys need choice! Encourage obsessions.
  • Strictness = disengagement
  • Guide violent writing, don’t ban it
  • They love humor – p.63
  • Video games
  • Farting
  • They’ll find their own way to write: Texting, Email, IM, drawing

The Big Three:

  1. They need to have choice in their topic
  2. They love humor
  3. They naturally prefer to write about violence

A Question to Comment On:

What are examples of things that boys find humorous and why?

Posted in: Content

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Robyn Russell

    Thanks so much for recommending this! My son loves to read, but is much less enthusiastic about writing. I love to write, and want to share that love with him.

  • Jackie

    My son and his 5th grade friends have started a daily newspaper. They did this after the girls did and invited them to be reporters. Rather than work for the girls they decided to compete. They write stories about cars, wrestling, baseball, playground sports, Greek mythology, book reviews, movie reviews AND they have a cartoon (changeable but one is called Pain Boy). Oh and they write about the other newspaper and occasionally about politics.

    I helped them by setting them up with a template in Word and showing them how to insert graphics, clip art, etc. Now I’m trying to convince them to take a cheap digital camera and capture photos. The writing is short and sweet and I help to edit it.

  • Janet

    I agree on the part where he says they need to have a choice in their topic. I have three boys and the hardest part of their writing assignment for them seemed to be figuring out what to write about. If they were given a specific topic it was much easier.

  • Anonymous

    They discussed the Tucker series and the Brian survival stories like Brian’s Winter.

    3rd grade boys and up enjoy tiffany sterling silver the Time Warp Trio books by Jon Scieszka and so do their male teachers.

  • Emma Madison

    I also wrote notes in the page margins on practically every page.
    MUST High School | MUST High School Legit | MUST High School

  • Emma Madison

    Ralph Fletcher is the best-known author of books that get boys to write.
    MUST High School Real | MUST High School

  • Debby1

    Okay, this is one of those “must have” books in my home! Having the four boys and not one of them really liking to write. Although, you ask them what they want to do when they get older and they respond with “I want to be a writer like Mom”.

    Thanks for sharing and I am running out to buy the book!

  • samanthajr

    Sounds like a realy great book. I think most boys think that farting is funny. They like that sort of thing. I think most of them think accidents are funny as well. As long as nobody is really hurt, they think its funny. I think that implies to most kids.

  • Rose

    I have to agree that boys like humor and violence. My kids, for example,love throwing jokes at each other. I don’t know what is it with farting that every kid find it hilarious.
    As for violence, I did notice that my kids like watching suspense and action flicks. The gore grosses me out but to them, it’s nothing.

  • zemlene

    That is an awesome book! i think most guys doesn’t like to write anything at all except of course when they need to have it done because it is a requirement.
    It is like a girl thing for them. They are not so thrilled with it. In fairness there are also some boys who really loves writing. maybe because they have to gift or maybe they were exposed with literary writing at their home.

    I think generally, it is really hard for boys to express their own ideas to words. But well, most guys are also very good in writing love letters to their girls.lol.

    With this kind of Ralph Fletcher, Boys will be motivated to explore their skills in writing and be very good at it.

  • Mike McQueen

    You brought back a fond memory for me, zemlene, when you said "most guys are also very good in writing love letters". I recall back in eighth grade sending many love letters to my first big crush, Rhonda Czarnicki. I remember how passionate I was when I wrote those letters, but yet I never even thought for a second that I would consider them a form of writing. How wrong I was though.

  • Chuck

    What’s up with farting!?!

    Our classroom setup: Windows and doors closed. AC is on. 40 boys inside the room. Then, suddenly the class would burst in laughter. Then someone would say, “Sir, someone farted.” Then I would say, “Alright everyone, all together, INHALE, EXHALE, INHALE, EXHALE!,”. At first I couldn’t tolerate boys who fart inside the classroom. But farting inside the classroom happens. I don’t know why but they are not ashamed of farting anymore. My older colleagues said that they used to ridicule students who farted in class but now it is already humor! And I find it funny as well, especially if I let the class participate in it.

  • Marie-Anne Harkness

    I think a lot of boys like to read and write poetry. Try Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse for a seriously long poem that is poigniant and real for 4th graders and up. It’s about growing up during the 1930s depression in the Oklahoma dust bowl. One of my “tough guy” boys loved it and got other boys to read it.

    Boys at my school also enjoy reading the same book together so I have multiple copies on hand. That way they can talk about it together. They are really into the Warrior series by Erin Hunter because one of our male 4th grade teachers is into the series. Word of mouth is very powerful.

    A few years ago 5th grade boys put together an impromtu book club they called the Gary Paulsen club. They discussed the Tucker series and the Brian survival stories like Brian’s Winter.

    3rd grade boys and up enjoy the Time Warp Trio books by Jon Scieszka and so do their male teachers.

    For the younger set, Traction Man books, Sweet Tooth, and Chester are a big hits with their sassy talking characters who interupt the narrator.

  • C Fraser

    Have you ever met Mike Sullivan? He’s the author of several books for boys and he’s made it his life’s work to get boys to read. Here’s his website: http://www.talestoldtall.com/

  • Lee

    I see grades on a schedule from Pre-K to 8th grade and I have found that once they get to 4th grade children are reading for content in subject areas so reading for the love of reading falls by the wayside.
    I am always looking for books that willgrab them and peek their interest.


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