Middle school is difficult. Boys and girls who may previously have felt confident as readers can become discouraged and decide “books are not for me.”  

Recent test scores indicate that this is particularly true for boys. To combat this trend, the Loft at the Evanston Public Library hosts a monthly “Father-Son Book Group.”  

The purpose of the Father-Son Book Group is to give fathers and sons an opportunity to bond through the acts of reading and discussing story. It is a chance for fathers to encourage reading, curiosity and thought. The more often Dad is caught reading by his son, the more likely Dad communicates the idea that “books are for boys and men too.”    

A father’s enthusiasm is a powerful thing. When I was in sixth grade, my dad, with whom I usually bonded through sports, handed me Stephen King’s fantasy novel “The Eyes of the Dragon.”  

He had just read it, and he described the plot with excitement. I’d been floundering in Language Arts, but I tore through the book. My dad and I discussed it, and after that we began reading Stephen King novels together. My grades improved.  My dad’s enthusiasm was the crucial ingredient that hooked me on reading again.  

The next meeting of the Evanston Public Library’s Father-Son Book Group will be at 2 p.m. on Jan. 30. The group will read “Pop” by Gordon Korman, a mystery involving a budding young quarterback and the retired NFL-linebacker who trains him. Discussion will focus on Mr. Korman’s funny and engaging story, as well as on the increasing incidences of brain trauma suffered by current and former NFL players, how tackling has changed, and the future of safety in the game.  

Copies of the book are available in The Loft on the third floor of the Library. Registration is available at www.epl.org/teenevents.