Boys Need Scout Camp and Jane Austen

Boys are gross.

Last night the captain asked Eli,  “Will you quit eating stuff off of your foot?”

Last week he asked Davy, “Will you quit chomping your food?”

Davy answered, “Well then how else am I supposed to eat?”


“Where are your scout shirts?” I asked. “Packed deep in our backpacks where we can’t reach them.”

But this morning, they are all off to scout camp, giddy, goofy, and ready for a week of being totally gross.  The house is quieter now.  God bless those leaders that are in charge of them.

It’s been such a nice day.  I do no have to think about reading with them this week or civilizing them for that matter.  I  mentioned that I’ve been trying to read Pride and Prejudice with my son recently.  We had made it all the way to Chapter 5 this week , but we really hit a wall yesterday.

Ben was asking questions like:  Why do they all talk so much?  Why is Sir Lucas even a character in the story?  Why isn’t there more action?

We’ll give the book a go when Ben gets backs, but it’s not something I’m going to force on him (well, maybe a little).  On a more positive note, Ben did finish Homeless Bird, a story about an Indian girl who has to marry at 13.


Ben protested plenty when we started, but I read the first few chapters to him while he buried his head in the couch.  I had to read to him again the next day, but he finished the book on his own.  I highly recommend it for your non-readers because even though it is a National Book Award winner, it is not too difficult to read, and it is quite short.  You immediately care about these characters and even fifteen year old boys are not immune to this little girl’s heartaches.

We had a little discussion about it, and I was surprised at Ben’s insights.  Our children have more depth than we give them credit for.  Getting our kids to read not just books, but books with literary value is difficult, but definitely worth it.

A recent study shows that reading literature increases a person’s empathy while reading popular fiction does not.  Teenagers can be so self-centered, but knowing a little bit more about the world, understanding the difficult problems that others face, and observing the nuances of the characters’ interactions can help our kids understand their own social world just a little bit better.  And hey, they need that because boys scouts are pretty clueless.



  1. Beck, why are you trying to make Ben read Jane Austen??? That is cruel and unusual punishment for both of you! If you want him to enjoy reading I would think you’d find something else! I commend your effort, but really, Jane Austen? I remember Mr. Thompson who I thought was a pure genius saying he even couldn’t stand Jane Austen. So, I don’t know any guy who likes it (let alone a 15 year old teenage boy) and if he does, you kind of have to wonder about him. How about something like Unbroken? Or did you already read that to him? Band of Brothers? Something that would pique his interest… does he like football? Tim Tebow just came out with an autobiography. Make Dave read manly stuff to him.

  2. Maybe if you really want to push the classic female romantic authors you could read Jane Eyre. That’s one that guys like too. I remember Phil liked it and even my Ben admits he liked it.

  3. You are adding to a large chorus of people who think I’m crazy. We actually did really well together until the last time—I will probably try it one more time, and if he really isn’t liking it, we’ll try something else. We did read the first half of Unbroken (I couldn’t stand to read the last part to them) and we got about 60 pages through Band of Brothers.

    How are you guys doing?

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