Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kid’s adventure author sends message in a bottle.

Max Elliot Anderson, author of action-adventures and mysteries for kids, has begun a real life adventure to encourage summer reading. On Saturday, May 31, he released a special bottle into the Rock River, near his home of Rockford, Illinois.

“Since most of my books contain adventures, and are written especially for boys 8 - 12, I wanted to do something different this summer, to point out the importance of reading in America. That’s because I grew up hating to read.” His blog, Books for Boys, ranks in the top 10 searches on Google.

He placed the bottle into the river, downstream from a spillway. “I know there are lots of hazards and obstacles in the rivers,” Anderson said. “But I’m hoping my bottle makes its way to the end of the Rock River, and into the Mississippi. If it gets that far, then who knows?”

The large, clear, plastic bottle is decorated with blue tape. Inside is a special card. When the card is returned to the author, he will send a set of his books to the person who found it. Also included is a forever stamp. “That way,” he said, “it won’t cost the finder anything to claim the prize, no matter when they pull it out of the water.”

The prize card includes instructions for proper disposal of the bottle, or recycling. “I don’t consider my message-bottle to be litter since I’m confident someone will find it one of these days.”

This summer adventure is in keeping with what young readers have reported, after reading Max Elliot Anderson’s books. “Reading one of your books is like being in an exciting or scary movie,” several have said.

“It’s vital,” Anderson said, “that we teach our children to turn off the TV, put away the video games, move away from the computer, and pick up a book. Reading helps to exercise the imagination in ways that nothing else can.” His books include North Woods Poachers, Mountain Cabin Mystery, Big Rig Rustlers, Secret of Abbott’s Cave, and Legend of the White Wolf. “Each book has completely different characters, and takes place in a different part of the country,” he said.

Anderson’s books have been compared by readers and reviewers to Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys, Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Scooby-Doo, Lemony Snicket, and adventure author Jack London. His books are equally enjoyed by boys and girls.

Anderson’s prize bottle could possibly make its way past Moline, and Davenport, to St. Louis, past Memphis, and all the way to New Orleans. “Hopefully someone will fish it out of the river before it gets to the Gulf,” he said with a smile.

“What better way to get kids excited about the adventure of reading, than to give them a real adventure this summer?” Anderson asked. He encourages young readers, who live along the Rock and Mississippi rivers, to be on the lookout for the bottle.

“Even if you aren’t the lucky one to find it,” Anderson said, “why not read a good adventure this summer anyway?”

Author Web Site

Books for Boys blog

Friday, May 30, 2008

Watch for Special Announcement for Kids

On Saturday, May 31, I'll be posting information here about an exciting adventure for kids. Don't miss it.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tweens, Summer, and the dreaded, “I’m bored.”

In a few, short days, children will be out of school. Parents have already planned summer activities, booked a camp, or prepared for those long summer days. One of the first things they’ll hear from their tweens is… “Mom, I’m bored!”

Some parents will respond by saying, “Why don’t you go outside and play?” Right, like that’s going to happen. They might also suggest video games, computer time, or the always present TV. After all, these have been great babysitters in the past, haven't they?

But what if a parent could find something new, something different?

Max Elliot Anderson grew up hating to read. That is a fact that led him to explore exactly why this had happened. His findings resulted in a determination to begin writing the kinds of books he would have liked as a child.

His first books, Newspaper Caper, North Woods Poachers, Mountain Cabin Mystery, Big Rig Rustlers, Secret of Abbott’s Cave & Legend of the White Wolf, have been compared by readers and reviewers to Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys, Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Scooby-Doo, Lemony Snicket, and adventure author Jack London. (Newspaper Caper is only available from the author, and all direct ordered books are signed)

Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot. Several young readers have written to say, “Reading one of your books is like being in an exciting or scary movie.”

We know that up to the age of 14, kids are making most of their decisions for a lifetime. The choice of reading should be one of those decisions. And these action-adventures & mysteries book contain character and spiritual principles that will help in forming good choices.

So the next time you hear, “I’m bored,” just reach for an action-adventure or mystery by Max Elliot Anderson. All books are ranked by Accelerated Reader.

Find more information at these sites:

Author Web Site

50 Pages of Reviews

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Boys in Peril

Following is a guest article, written by Robert Gould, president of Big Guy Books.

Boys in Peril

Literacy rates fall, dropout rates rise. What it means to us.
There is a crisis going on in this country right now – one that threatens the very future of half our nation’s children. Yet, this dire situation persists with little or no attention from the mainstream media. The problem is that boys are falling further and further behind in their reading skills – and, as a result, they are dropping out of school at an alarming rate.

Think this kind of talk is just “alarmist” in nature? Consider these facts:

55% of College students are Girls, 45% are Boys.

11th-grade Boys now read and write at the level of 8th-grade girls. 30 years ago there was no difference.

In U.S. PIRLS tests, for reading proficiency, 4th-grade girls average 18 points above boys.

40% of fourth graders read below the basic level. 75% of them never rise above average.

By age 17, less than 6% of boys can read science, business and economic sections in the local newspaper.

On average, boys learn to read at a much slower pace than girls. Plus, we reinforce and reward other skills and behaviors in boys that are not tied to reading. Sports, video-gaming, and the social “hangin’ with friends” (without doing anything productive) are three examples of the ways boys are pulled away from reading. These facts present several problems in today’s educational system. For one thing, increased class sizes and more stressed-out, inexperienced teachers in the classroom mean that it is going to be harder to give those boys, who fall behind, the special attention they need to catch up. And, when boys (or any child, for that matter) fall behind, it begins to have a negative effect on their self-esteem.
Once the self-esteem begins to suffer, it becomes very difficult to learn anything. Now, you have boys who associate very negative feelings with school and, consequently, reading. So, that puts the male gender, which has been struggling to keep up in the first place, at an even greater disadvantage. By the time these boys get to high school, they are hardly in a good position to complete the four-year program and move on to college or a solid job.
What happens next is the unthinkable: HIGH percentages of boys drop out of school before they finish the four years of High School that are an absolute necessity for survival.
Consider this alarming information reported in The New York Times:
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is considered the yardstick for academic performance because it is the only test taken all across the country. The test of 12th-grade achievement was given to a representative sample of 21,000 high school seniors attending 900 public and private schools from January to March 2005.
It showed that the share of 12th-grade students lacking even basic high school reading skills – meaning they could not, for example, extract data about train fares at different times of day from a brochure – rose to 27% from 20% in 1992.
The share of students proficient in reading dropped to 35% from 40% in 1992. At the same time, the gap between boys and girls grew, with girls’ reading skills more than a year ahead of those of boys’.
--The New York Times, February 22, 2007
So, what does this all mean to us, as a society?
It should be fairly obvious, that as the number increases, of our sons and brothers who are dropping out, the worse off we all are as a whole. Unemployed and under-educated males find themselves in trouble with the law at a much higher rate than those who finish school and move on to steady jobs or careers.
Our prisons are filled with young illiterate males who went out into the world at a disadvantage because of their lack of reading skills. To illustrate this point, let’s turn again to more disheartening statistics:

90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts.

90% of prison inmates in 2006 were men.

70% of prison inmates cannot read above a 4th-grade level.

In California, the percentage of children who never make it past the 4th-grade reading level is used to help gauge the number of future prisons.

66% of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

Since 1970, there has been a 700% increase in the U.S. prison population.

The cost for all the new inmates will be $27.5 billion by 2011.
There’s no end in sight, and the problem may turn out to be cyclical. How is a father going to develop a love of reading in his son if he, too, doesn’t have a high comfort level with books, doesn’t read during his own leisure time, or (in the worst-case scenario) is illiterate himself? It’s easy to see how this crisis can, and has, quickly spiraled out of control in our country.
Consider all the money poured into building new jails and locking up drug offenders. Now, imagine what might have happened if that money was put into our schools – working diligently to help our young boys get a foothold on the basic reading skills needed to survive and excel.
Is there a solution? Absolutely! We must invest a considerable amount of additional time and energy into making our boys more literate. Families simply cannot allow them to fall behind in school. And, the easiest way to do this is to build a life-long love of reading at the individual family level.
First and foremost, fathers and sons need to spend more time focusing on reading-centered activities. A father-son bond formed over any activity is a powerful one. Imagine that bond put to use for something as crucial as literacy!
Dads need to be reading role models, who not only read to their kids as much as they can, but put themselves out there as readers, as well. When a child sees his father reading around the house (instead of watching a game on TV, or working on the computer, etc.), that visualization is going to have a profoundly positive effect on the child’s own behavior.
After committing more time to reading to the boys, it is important to choose the appropriate content. Parents need to select titles that will really engage young boys. Storytelling that utilizes compelling photos and images, tales of heroes, action, history, dinosaurs or space – these elements have all been proven to engage boys at a much deeper, stronger level.
Finally, we need to play a more active role at school. Getting involved with the library and reading to your son’s class (when it is age-appropriate) are two powerful ways to show your child that you have a stake in his education and that reading matters!
As parents, during this challenging time, we must come to grips with this crisis of literacy that is facing boys in this country. Schools will be able to help our children, but not until we make strides at home! Start early. Read often. Break the cycle of literacy problems and open up a world of possibilities for your child.
(used with permission)