Two tables at the Waupaca Area Public Library are drawing some attention these days.
The tables – one on the library’s main level and the other outside of the teen area in the lower level of the library – are filled with books just for guys.
“I’m noticing a lot of people stop and look at it,” said Sue Abrahamson, the children’s librarian.
It’s part of the library’s Waupaca Guys Read month that culminates with a Guys Read Super Saturday at the library.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, guys of all ages are invited to the library to play games, master their survival skills, make an origami Yoda, and design and build a mini golf course. Lunch will be served. Registration is not necessary.
Abrahamson and Melissa Carollo, the reference and teen librarian, came up with the idea to hold such an event.
“I think we both recognize that there’s this thing that happens in Waupaca that doesn’t happen in other libraries,” Abrahamson said.
That “thing” is the fact that they see men and boys visiting the library and doing plenty of reading.
This is at a time when U.S. Department of Education reading tests for the last 30 years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.
Waupaca Guys Read draws attention to the fact that they recognize there are many men in the community who are readers, and the library wants to reinforce that fact, Abrahamson said.
“Modeling reading is a good thing, whether it’s a dad or a brother,” she said.
Both Abrahamson and Carollo said that boys want to choose what they read.
“I do believe that as long as you’re engaging in the language, it’s reading,” Abrahamson said. “And, it boosts your vocabulary.”
Carollo said the library’s Pizza and Pages, which is the library’s teen book club, is primarily made up of boys.
“I know that feeds directly from the children’s department,” she said. “They tell me what they like and don’t like, and they’re always thoughtful. They have their reasons why.”
Carollo said that in selecting materials for the teen space, she gives the reviews to the teen staff, asking them to put a mark by those items they find interesting.
“I want different opinions. That helps the room,” she said.
Abrahamson also seeks ways to involve youths at the library.
“Last year, when I got new books, I invited a couple of fifth-grade boys to help open them. I gave them sticky notes to mark their favorites and videotaped it,” she said.
They said there are different reading paths for boys and that the event celebrates that fact.
Guys Read is a Web-based, literacy initiative founded by Jon Scieszka. He thought of the idea after growing up with five brothers, teaching school for 10 years, and writing books for children for the last 20 years.
The basic premise behind Guys Read is that boys will be motivated to read when they are connected to texts that they want to read.
The Waupaca Area Public Library does this by offering a variety of genres, including science fiction, humor, sports and action-adventure.
“If it goes well, I think we’re hoping to have something in the summer,” Abrahamson said. “We’re hoping that all ages come.”