Mason is currently reading a book called BLOODY JACK: A Curious Tale of the Adventures of Mary "Jackie" Faber, A Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer. He's positively giddy about this story which is about a kick-butt, cross-dressing girl in the British navy during the time of pirates. I'm always pleased at the extent to which the gender of the story means absolutely NOTHING to Mason. He'll read any book that interests him, and completely defies that old publishing adage that boys will only read stories with boy heros.
In fact, one of his favorite series was the DEAR DUMB DIARY books which are about a girl, Jamie, who has a whole lot of boy trouble in middle school. Those books are also really hillarious and written, interestingly, by a man.
The one area in which his reading tastes run more "boy" is when it comes down to a preferrence between Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. We have far more Hardy Boys in the house than Nancy Drew, but, I have a feeling that once he's torn through all those Hardy Boys, Nancy will look a lot more interesting. :-)
I'm not sure what I'm trying to say about this except that I think it's amazingly damaging to keep insisting that boys need boy heros. I'm all for more girl-power books (and if this belief is the only thing fueling all those books, well then I'll put up with it,) but I think that boys will read those too, if given a chance. Certainly my boy will. If the story is good, he's there.
When I mentioned this on Facebook my friend and middle-grade writer Kurtis Scaletta suggested that boys will read books about friendships and romance "in SECRET." I told him that I hope that the e-reader can do for young boys what it's done for erotica and the middle-aged woman, which is to say, make reading whatever the hell they like less "shameful" since no one can judge the e-reader by its cover, as it were.