Writing for Tween Boys

© 2010 Max Elliot Anderson

It’s clear that some of the most critical patterns for a lifetime are decided during the tween years, that awkward time between still wanting to be a “little kid” and trying to be all grown up.

As a child, I grew up as a reluctant reader. In a family of seven children, I wasn’t  pushed to read, so I never formed good reading habits. This was ironic because my father  published over 70 books, many written for children.

A few years ago, I decided to look into some of the reasons for my lack of interest in reading. Looking at books written for children, I discovered they contained large blocks of copy, making it easy for a reluctant reader to lose his place on the page. These books tended to be produced on a brown shade of paper with small type.

A reluctant boy reader is not going to be interested in endless sections of detail and description. He wants something happening on every page, fast action and humor. Many of the books were written with girls as the primary audience. The books for boys tended to include dragons, wizards, or the dark side.

My findings led me to begin writing action-adventure and mystery books for readers 8-13, the kinds of stories I would have liked to read when I was a child. As a result of this research, my books are larger than most, the paper is bright white, and the type is easier to read. Sentences and paragraphs are short. The books contain a lot of dialog and humor, along with heart-pounding action and adventure. Most chapters end in a cliffhanger, nearly forcing the reader to start the next chapter.

My writing for kids wouldn’t be very important if it didn’t have a positive impact. But I receive many letters and emails from young readers, parents, teachers, and librarians. Here’s just one example. “I am a reading instructor and work one-on-one with people who struggle with learning to read. Getting some of these kids to practice reading can be a MAJOR ordeal. Recently I found your books. They love them! One student I have has done everything you could possibly think of over the last year to try and cut his reading lessons shorter, and getting him to practice his skills outside of our lessons has been like pulling teeth. Last Monday, he wanted to stay longer because he wanted to read more of Legend of the White Wolf. His mom was thrilled. Thank you, Max! Your books are wonderful. You’re making a difference!”

In my live talks to students, I like to remind them that readers are the leaders others follow.

Max Elliot Anderson has won numerous awards for film production including Best Cinematographer for Pilgrim’s Progress with Liam Neeson. Using his extensive experience in media, Max brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories for tween boys. Seven of his books will be reprinted this summer with four new books due out by the end of the year and more on the way. Visit Max atwww.maxbooks.9k.com and booksandboys.blogspot.com.


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