The Dangerous Book for boys

Is it time to let boys be boys? Maybe this book points the way.

Summer is coming and soon, I will be entertaining 4 boys all day — of varying ages. There’s a new book out, The Dangerous Book for Boys, its up to #2 on Amazon already. (Click here to see the video. )

The authors, Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden, say, “I think we’ve become aware that the whole “health and safety” overprotective culture isn’t doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or–and this is the important bit–they’ll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don’t end up with safer boys–we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it’s not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It’s not good for their health or their safety.”

The book promises several things:

  • The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World
    The Five Knots Every Boy Should Know
    Making a Bow and Arrow
    Timers and Tripwires
    Famous Battles-Including Lexington and Concord, The Alamo, and Gettysburg
    Spies-Codes and Ciphers
    Navajo Code Talkers’ Dictionary
    Cloud Formations
    Timeline of American History

I know that the book will to the adaptation of necessary skills —mud12.gif experiences for every boy — and every parent of boys to “live through.” Looking back, I’m sure all the projects we attempt this summer will be fondly recalled happily, without all of the frustration that I experience in the present moment.

14 comments to “The Dangerous Book for boys”
  1. I think it’s pretty sexist but perhaps it’s an easier sell this way.

    In a local thrift store I recently found a math book for girls, I got it because it was cheap (10 cents!) and because of homeschooling plans I just buy educational books to leave laying around for her to discover. The title is ridicuous , but the content in this math book is really fun, too bad for the sexist part!

    Off to read the Three Legs article.

  2. There is also a girl’s one available. I got this from our library. Bugger the boys – I read it first. I think its great. I’m all for bolstering reading amongst boys– who aren’t always ‘readers’

  3. SusieJ, as a professional and accomplished Tribeca Nanny who has never been a mother, I can give you a few reasons Why all the emphasis on boys. You should have asked this on Ask A Nanny, but I’ll expound here unofficially. Boys and young men are a group who have lost their direction in the culture. The metaphorical Father has abandoned his presence as the giver of ethics and true power or place. This is not simply that single moms are charged with rearing children on their own, but that the Father presence in the society is missing now. Witness the VaTech massacre, Suicide bombers, Columbine, etc., etc. An intelligent PhD at Harvard wrote a book about this lack in a boy’s development several years ago and showed systematically how all the school violence could be traced back to the lack of adults functioning within the family triad. Men carry a different burden than Women. Women are articulating theirs much better these days than Men.

  4. Nanny Molly, brilliant, but frightening at the same time. I wonder — should I leave the book alone and just let it be a Daddy-son thing?

  5. That book Nanny’s referring to is “Raising Cane” I believe? I’ve seen some of the documentary ad it’s very moving. Some also suggest that the excessive diagnosing of ADD/ADHD disorders in schools is actually just the modern school system failing boys So, thereis valid reasons for parents, educators, and other responsible adults to read and learn about ways to help boys during times where the north american school system is letting them down.

    I still don’t see the good in aiming books to children specifically, in sexist ways. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I do think it’s all about marketing.

    But hey, I have 2 girls, and I’d hate to think that parents might not share such interesting stuff with their daughters because it’s boy stuff, and it also concerns me that some boys who just aren’t into that kind of stuff will be shamed by this bestseller. I hear frequently stories of boys who are bullies into sports they don’t want to play by their pushy parents etc who expect them to be more matcho etc, and I think this book can harm boys as much as it can exclude girls.

    But I think the content in the book looks really cool!

    SusieJ, I regularly participate in a debate board on a message board I frequent and I know that I can come across strong, please let me know if strong opinons aren’t wanted 🙂

  6. Yes, wifemothermaniac– I do think it’s a catchy title and a way to sell more books. I do agree. And hopefully the sensationalism will make people take a look at what’s inside, and make a new connection with the boys in their life. The sensationalism/feminism issue may be keeping us from seeing the much bigger message — it’s time for boys to be boys. And yes, I do hope you get the book, and explore them with your beautiful girls. They deserve to have fun too — that doesn’t always involve staying clean.

  7. No.

    Boys should be allowed to be boys, the book’s fantastic and sure I did those things and would’ve loved reading it when I was a little girl, the title wouldn’t have stopped me.

    I see no harm in having some boys/girls books. Some boys would probably only pick up a book that size if it were aimed specifically to ‘them’ – same goes for girls.

  8. Sexist? Hell yeah. I’m male and, although I intend to do many of the types of things described by this book with my son, I will not do so to serve the role of defining maleness by these measures. We also sew together, cook together, and talk about what we’re feeling and how to honor and be respectful of ourselves and others.

    Why should such a book be limited to boys? Because we, as a culture, teach boys to go run around and play and we teach girls to be demure and listen quietly. Every television show, every magazine, every store, every facet of society pushes us all into these stereotypes of what it means to be male or female. Our language reinforces this, and girls are called tomboys and boys are hit with any number of sexist or homophobic terms if they should dare step out of those bounds.

    Why should such a book be for boys? Why not for active kids? One of the growing problems with youth is that they are not active enough and don’t create a relationship with the natural world around them: they don’t play in the woods, the stream, the empty lot. Girls need this too.

    Boys are more constrained by these ridiculous images in our media that prompt them to think they have to be tough, strong, macho, and powerful. I see this in my classroom everyday. We are failing too many boys because they can’t or won’t keep up with these stereotypes and no one has taught them any measure of media literacy to parse them and understand them. We are failing too many girls because we don’t teach them the same lessons, and they grow up thinking their worth is measured in how they look and what others think of them.

    It’s sad, really. I think books like this are not really any different than walking into BabiesRUs and seeing all the pink on one side of the aisle and all the blue on the other, and no other options.

  9. Peter, thank you for presenting your thoughts about whether the title of the book is sexist. It is quite surprising that they would actually choose to market a book, directly aimed at boys — especially today. I too know many girls who are functioning quite well as tomboys, without the aid of the book, in its own right. And many of these girls, couldn’t care less about what the title says. But if the title does reach out to parents with boys, parents that have the latest Tivo, Wii, and all the creature comforts that scream couch potato, maybe that is a good thing. But as a culture, we must be careful, about the sterotypes we are handing down to our children.

  10. I agree with Peter, that part of the basic premise is a good idea: Get kids off their butts. Revive “old fashioned” forms of entertainment that predated expensive toys. Get away with the over-litigious mentality where even swing sets aren’t allowed on playgrounds.

    That is what makes the sexist tone of the book all the more unfortunate and sad.

    And it isn’t really about the word “for Boys” in the title. There are a lot of books directed at either boys or girls out there when it comes to topics like surviving junoir high, or learning about sex (and other topics that aren’t in such shortage these days). But most of those books (except those published by people with a right winged agenda) try to steer readers away from stereotyping the other sex.
    This book, however, really revels in stereotyping females. In some ways it is worse than most kids’ books that you find from the 50’s.

    It makes me glad that I grew up in the “Free To Be You And Me” 70’s. I hope that pendulum swings back in that direction.

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