Male Role Models Missing in YA Material


An aspect of Middle School and YA material that is seemingly universally overlooked involves gender specificity related to the protagonist. To say there is a dearth of strong children’s role models who are male is a gross understatement. Sure, there’s this or that boy killing vampires or trolls or other things that don’t go bump in the night without an apocalyptic stimulus. And there’s a strong trend to present young boys struggling with sexual identity in what I’ll refer to as early-stage YA material, but it’s very hard to find a traditional male about whom other boys can read like I did 50 years ago when John R. Tunis and Will James were the bill of fare. Again, there were others, as there are now, but the current male Middle School to YA hero—who has staying power—is one I’ve not found.

Tim Green, who was the neighbor and friend of a fellow I’ve known for 45 years—and this is why I’m aware of what I’m writing next, ha ha—has had success in the adult fiction market and has tackled (pun intended; Tim was an NFL defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons for a decade) the young male market. Tim’s a really smart guy, who graduated co-valedictorian from Syracuse and also has a law degree, and I’m certain he’s analyzed all the nooks and crannies of what I’m discussing and found what I’ve also discovered in my bumbling ways, and it’s that it is hard to create a youthful, contemporary, male hero other boys will stay with. Hence, there is a ready market for the “right” writer(s) to address.

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