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Boys and Books

The problem: Getting young boys to read books of any sort. On national tests such as the NAEP, boys always lag behind girls in reading...and the gap widens as the boy's age increases.

So what to do? Authors of children's books are responding by providing both fiction and non-fiction books aimed at boys through the use of toilet humor, violence, gore and edgy imagery.

Two sample titles that have proved successful are Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger, and Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula.

So, lets jump ahead a few years. Just imagine how mathematics word problems will read, in order to capture the attention of young boys.

An example: Arjuna, exasperated in combat, shot a quiver of arrows to slay Carna. With half his arrows he parried those of his antagonist; with four times the square root of the quiverful he killed his horse; with six arrows he slew Salya (Carna’s charioteer); with three he demolished the umbrella, standard, and bow; and with one he cut off the head of his foe. How many were the arrows which Arjuna let fly?

Ugh...but then, this problem was written by Bhaskara in a Hindu mathematics text in the 1150s. Did he have difficulty getting young boys to read as well?

Source: Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2008