Boys and Reading—a p.s.

I just wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal about Boys and Reading and a longer piece on boys and reading (10.8.2010)

On the heels of thinking about boys and reading a few ideas began to percolate while reading a review of Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. Where do innovation and creativity come from?  I believe that mistakes are a gold mine of potential innovation and inspiration. As Bertolt Brecht said “ Intelligence is not to make no mistakes. But quickly to see how to make them good.”  While I was having a wonderful thought filled journey thinking about the connection between creativity and mistakes, it dawned on me that one of my all time favorite books, it a book everyone, including boys would love: Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Jones. The book’s introduction starts off with a quotation from Mark Twain, who said, “Name the greatest of all the inventors. Accident.”  I can’t believe someone is not curious about how the following everyday objects came to be—from chocolate chip cookies, the ice cream cone, seeing eye dogs, the slinky, ivory soap, the post-it notes, Velcro, to the piggy back. I love a challenge and when people tell me boys don’t like to read and they are not good readers I become exasperated and annoyed …maybe those guys have never met a book they love.  Maybe they haven’t read Mistakes That Worked. While reading the book, here are few questions to jump-start a conversation about mistakes.

~ Can you go through life and never make mistakes?
~ Do you think it is possible to be perfect?
~ Is perfection boring? Is there risk, fun, and adventure in perfection?
~ What makes it difficult to practice Winston Churchill’s maxim: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
~ How do you feel when you make a mistake—embarrassed, foolish, stupid?
~ Do you try to deny or defend your mistakes?
~  Does the fear of making mistakes make you less wiling to try new things or take risks?


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