News Item: Boys Need Better Than Comic Book Heroes
“Superheroes may be poor role models for boys,” is in the news this week.  Researcher Sharon Lamb, Ed.D, from the University of Massachusetts recently told the American Psychological Association that boys today only see two options in the media – slackers, or superheroes – and while one is played for laughs, the other sends all kinds of wrong messages about masculinity.  Iron Man, the hero of this summer’s sequel, is all about sarcasm, violence, and exploitation of women, she said, typical of other movie heroes in recent years. [1,2]
On the other hand, the Canadian Council on Learning just released a report that says teachers and school officials should “embrace” comic books as “gateway literature” to encourage boys to read.  “You have to start somewhere,” one teacher told the Vancouver (BC) Sun.[3,4]
Are Superman and his friends offering a hand up – or a bum steer – to a 21st-Century boy?  Have we lost the heroes of our childhood?  Where can we go to find real inspiration for a jaded generation?
Hal and Melanie Young, authors of Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys, have a different take on boys and their heroes.  Boys naturally seek out role models, they say, and parents can guide them to real heroes, in fiction, history and real life, to help develop the strength of character needed in a fast-changing, unstable world.  Rather than indulging boys with a diet of “mental potato chips”, they say moms and dads can point their sons to men of courage and honor, whether on the battlefield, in the laboratory, in the pages of books or along the halls of government – and they can even become heroes to their sons, themselves! 
[1] “Superheroes ‘poor role models’ for boys” – BBC, 8/15/10 
[2] “Today’s superheroes send wrong image to boys, researchers say” – American Psychological Association, 8/15/10
[3] “More than just funny books: Comics and prose literacy for boys” – Canadian Council on Learning, 7/21/10
[4] “Comics help develop reading skills” – Vancouver (BC) Sun, 7/22/10
Hal and Melanie Young are the parents of six boys aged 8 to adult.  Their book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys (Great Waters Press, 2010) is a practical guide to reaching the hearts and minds of boys without breaking or losing your own.  Psychologist John Rosemond calls it “Just what the doctor ordered,” and the Rev. Dr. Tedd Tripp says, “Raising Real Men is long overdue …”  Learn more at their website,, or at, where their fan page is among the top 5% on Facebook.
To book Hal and Melanie, together or singly, call (919) 623-7589 (Eastern Time Zone)