Friday, February 23, 2007

High school seniors lag in math, reading

There is a jarring headline in today’s paper, from The Associated Press,
“High school seniors lag in math, reading.”

Unfortunately, that’s a little like the fire department racing to the top floor of a high-rise, when the fire is actually in the basement. These high school test scores simply reflect what happened to students years before.

The scores are from the National Assessment of Education Progress and represent the 2005 test results.

More than 25% of seniors were unable to score at the basic level on the reading test. The report didn’t indicate the percentage of boys VS girls. Based on other sources of information, I suspect that it’s the boys who are largely bringing down these scores, but that’s just speculation. What we do know is that boys give up, very early, on math and reading in school.

One state commissioner of education said that we are sleeping through a crisis.

The 2005 scores were no better than when the test was last given in 2002.

I was one of those boys who didn't like to read. Unlike today, where students are encouraged to read through a number of avenues, no one noticed, or encouraged me. This is the primary reason that I now write action-adventures and mysteries, especially for boys 8 – 13. My books work with boys!

Here are just a few comments:

North Woods Poachers

For the young pre-teen and early teen male, this is a must read. I gave the book to an 11 year old boy who does not read books unless forced to, and he read it cover to cover in one setting. One of the best series of books since Tom Swift came out 40 years ago.
The “North Woods Poachers" is a really exciting story. When I finished reading it I wanted to read it again. It's better than Nancy Drew mystery stories. The characters were so real that it seemed as if I was there as an onlooker - not just reading a book. There was just enough danger without being too scary. This book is perfect for kids who like mystery stories. Kaiti Wawrzyniak - age 11

Written in the manner of a good, old-fashioned “Hardy Boys”- style mystery,
From beginning to end I was wondering what was going to happen next. I just couldn't put it down. Usually my mom has to tell me to read at least 10 pages a day but she doesn't have to with this author. Brian Baden 14 yrs old
Terror at Wolf Lake

(PS from Caleb's Mom---I am not sure if I've ever seen my son so rivetedby a book---he was hooked and totally immersed himself in this read! Allliterature should so make a child soar like this book did!)

What a great story! I was hooked from page one to the end. It is rare that anything hooks me like that…except for Star Wars, of course.

Newspaper Caper

This is Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn if they lived in modern American suburbia.

Max Elliot Anderson will have moms everywhere enthusiastic about his books about young boy's adventure books - he is writing books for our children geared at some really challenging years, sometimes referred to as the "tween" years. These books were great for ME to read - and for my 7 1/2 year old son who is just now getting into "chapter books" as he calls them.

Mountain Cabin Mystery

My grandpa sent me your book. I read it and think it is very good. I really liked the old suspension bridge. I also really like the part where Al and Scott trick the terrorists with the laser pointer and camera flash. The end where you bring in the Army is really cool.

Check out all 7 books at under Max Elliot Anderson.

Read nearly 50 pages of reviews at

Here is a link to the AP story

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

These books are now ranked by Accelerated Reader

The action-adventures and mysteries, published by Baker Trittin Press, and written by Max Elliot Anderson, for readers 8 - 13, especially boys, are now rated by Accelerated Reader (AR).

With AR, students choose books at their appropriate reading levels and read them at their own pace. Next they take a standardized quiz, written by AR. Teachers and parents get immediate feedback on the reading and vocabulary progress for each student, and the students get points for every AR book they read.

According to the AR web site, students, teachers, and parents love this program which has increased reading wherever it is used.

Newspaper Caper, Terror at Wolf Lake, North Woods Poachers, Mountain Cabin Mystery, Big Rig Rustlers, & Secret of Abbott's Cave are AR rated for 4th grade readers.

Legend Of The White Wolf is AR rated for 3rd grade readers.

Not only are these books enjoyed by boys, girls and even adults like them too. They are distributed by Baker and Taylor, and can also be found on Amazon. Children report that reading these books is like being in an exciting or scary movie.

The books are compared by readers and reviewers to a modern day Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys, Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Scooby-Doo, Lemony Snicket, and adventure author Jack London.

Mountain Cabin Mystery contains a plot in which the boys foil the terrorists plans of a sleeper cell. Recently, a real plot was thwarted in the author's home town of Rockford, IL. There, a terrorist planned to blow up hand grenades in the shopping mall.

All of Max Elliot Anderson's titles are relevant for young readers, and Mountain Cabin Mystery demonstrates just how relevant.

If you have any questions, you may contact the author at

Friday, February 09, 2007

Boys, Education, and Reading

When I began writing action-adventures and mysteries for boys, about five years ago, I’d like to say that I was fully informed about the road ahead. I wasn’t that smart. What I did know, based on my research of a couple hundred books for my target age group, 8 – 13, was that I didn’t find much material that would have interested me when I was that age.

This had been the problem, I believe, that led me to avoid reading whenever possible. It was only after I had written several manuscripts, and a couple of the books had been published, that I became better informed.

I found that boys tend to be a bit behind the girls in areas of reading and math. As I spoke in schools, and asked if there was anyone who didn’t like to read, many of the boys’ hands went up. When I asked why, they gave pretty consistent answers, no matter where I went.

Then, very recently, I learned a new term. Again, this has become somewhat controversial, but here it is anyway: The Feminization of Education. The first person to tell me this term was Dr. Ray Moore. He heads an organization called Exodus Mandate. The mission is to inform parents so that they will remove their students from public schools and place them in private, Christian, or homeschools. You can find more information about Exodus Mandate at:

I began to do a little research, and uncovered the following web sites. While I don’t personally stand behind any one of them, I found the information extremely interesting, as it relates to why boys have difficulty in finding reading enjoyable.

Business Week - The New Gender Gap

ABC - Can Boys Really Not Sit Still in School?

Supporting Our Sons

Teaching Our Boys

Learning About Educating Boys Better

Stop Feminizing our Schools - Our Boys Are Suffering

Illinois Loop - Gender Bias

LEARN NC - Reading is for the Boys (and Girls)

These sites provide eye-opening statistics, and real world, classroom examples. No wonder boys don’t like to read, most of them would rather be outside playing instead of sentenced to sit at their desks and “behave.”

The more I am able to get my message out about how my books address some of the problems, concerning the lack of interest, on the part of boys, in reading, the more I see doors opening.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Writing for Boys VS Writing for Girls

Over the last few years, I’ve had a chance to interact with parents, teachers, professional educators, acquisitions editors, publishers, and young readers.

Something I learned years ago, while I was involved in the business of producing and distributing films for kids, was this. Boys would enjoy a boy’s story, but not one specifically intended for girls. Girls liked both.

I used this background as the model for the books I would write. On the publishing side, I ran into stiff objections and a lot of rejections.

But you should hear the people who live in the marketplace, as they relate how my books are different, and why they work with boys. Here is just one example.
“Women and girls tend to love details. Guys hate ‘em. I doubt if it was a woman who first said, ‘Cut to the chase.’”

All of that to say this. Even though I grew up with three sisters, and my wife and I have raised a son and a daughter, there is no way I know what a girl feels inside; her emotions, thought process, or other things that make us so different. I’ve been asked several times to write for girls, and I don’t feel qualified.

My first target is boys. I know from the inside what a boy is like, what he feels, how he thinks, and what is important to him. And you should see the intensity with which parents, teachers, and boys are reporting back to tell me that my books are something unique. Families, libraries, and schools tend to buy all 7 titles.

I’m not saying I’ll never attempt to write a book for girls. It might be a good exercise. But for the time being, I’m going to continue on my path of writing action-adventures and mysteries especially for boys.

My books are ranked by Accelerated Reader, and distributed by Baker & Taylor.

Author web site
Nearly 50 pages of reviews

Friday, February 02, 2007

Why My Books Are Working With Boys

One of the most rewarding aspects of publishing books for kids, is when I hear back from a reader, parent, or teacher. Here’s a classic from the parent of a reluctant boy reader. This mother recounted what happened when her son began reading LEGEND OF THE WHITE WOLF.

She said, “I was sitting in the family room the other day when my very reluctant reader son came storming into the room. He had been reading your book, LEGEND OF THE WHITE WOLF. He walked up to where I was sitting, and slammed the book onto the coffee table. ‘I know what that guy is trying to do,’ he fumed.”


“The guy who wrote that book,” he pointed in defiance to the book on the table. “I know what he’s doing.”


“He’s trying to get me to read the next chapter.”

“What do you mean?”

“’Well look.’ He picked up the book and turned to the end of the chapter he had just finished. ‘Listen.’”

“Then he read the cliffhanger ending to that chapter, slapped the book closed, and said, ‘See, he’s just trying to make me read the next chapter!’ Then he stomped off to his room and did exactly that.”

She went on to tell me that whatever I was doing, to please continue, because it was working with her boy.

My books are fast-paced. They have shorter sentences, and I don’t spend a lot of time on details. The books are filled with humor, suspense, and heart-pounding action. These are reasons why kids tell me that reading one of my books is like being in an exciting or scary movie.