The pressures upon young males as they go from childhood to puberty and into the world of adulthood have weighed heavily upon young men since cave men had to feed, clothe and protect their families.
Indeed, most rituals and rites of passage have grown out o fa young male’s gaining acceptance into the society in which he has matured from innocence into adulthood.
Young males have faced enormous hurdles in order to prove themselves men worthy of the tribe.
No matter whether in some far-away-in-time-and-space tribal culture, in the sanctums of private or public schools or hanging out on a street corner, young men must prove themselves. They have an inculcated need to prove their manhood to themselves, to their families and to the society in which they live.
A type of novel has grown out of this innate need of young men: the Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel. This literary genre chronicles the self-inquisition, the intellectual growth and the moral development of a young protagonist as he seeks his place in the adult world around him.
The transition from innocence into adulthood is not an easy one, and every young man has a story.
It is these stories that help guide readers into dealing with their own questioning, curiosity, experimentation and ultimate coming to grips with their own destinies.
Teachers, parents and students often seek out books that other teachers and young readers have found of value among the hundreds of books entering the marketplace each year. Rarely does a new novel become a classic, an achievement that requires time. However, teachers can recommend a number of books that today’s youth will find worthy of immersing himself into, if only for a few hours.
Such escapes into coming-of-age novels benefit adolescents by helping them become young men, by enabling them to identify with others who have undergone similar situations and who have overcome obstacles in their search for identity.
25 Coming-of-Age Novels for Boys to Add to Reading Lists:
1. Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain. New York: Knopf, 1953.
2, DeMarinis, Rick. The Mortician’s Apprentice.New York: Norton, 1994.
3. Doyle, Roddy. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. New York: Viking, 1993.
4, Forman, James. My Enemy, My Brother. New York: Scholastic Press, 1970.
5, Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Colored People. New York: Knopf, 1994.
6, Gakarza, Ernesto. Barrio Boy.New York: Ballantine, 1972.
7. Grimsley, Jim. Dream Boy. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin, 1995.
8. Joravsky, Ben. Hoop Dreams: A True Story of Hardship and Triumph. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
9. Lyon, George Ella. Sonny’s House of Spies. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004.
10, McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir. New York: Scribner, 1996.
11, Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa. New York: Macmillan, 1986.
12. Mattera, Don. Sophiatown: Coming of Age in South Africa. Boston, MA: Beacon, 1989.
13. Myers, Anna. Tulsa Burning. New York : Walker , 2002.
14. Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. New York: Bantam, 1983.
15. Sanchez, Alex. Rainbow Boys. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001.
16. Santiago, Danny. Famous All Over Town. New York: New American Library, 1984.
17. Shehadeh, Raja. Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine . South Royalton , Vt. : Steerforth Press, 2002.
18. Soto, Gary. Living Up the Street: Narrative Reflections. San Francisco, CA: Strawberry Hill Press, 1985.
19. Standing Bear, Luther. My Indian Boyhood. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1931 [reprinted Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1988].
20. Wain, John. The Free Zone Starts Here. New York: Delacorte, 1984.
21. Wiesel, Elie. Night.
22. Wilkomirski, Binjamin. Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood. Translated by Carol Brown Janeway. New York: Schocken Books, 1997.
23. Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life: A Memoir. New York: Harper, 1989.
24. Wright, Richard. Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth. New York: Harper, 1945.
25. Wright, Richard. Native Son.
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