The Dangerous Book for Boys – everything a 21st century boy needs to know

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 3rd January 2012

The New Year has arrived with 85 mph winds lashing the country, driving rain and a clutch of ultra-depressing surveys.

Why are we so addicted to surveys? The papers are full of them – and the crazier they sound the more column inches they get.

Today’s batch is as eclectic as ever. So far I’ve clocked that only one in three of us bother with breakfast these days and more than 2.5 million of us will start a diet before nightfall. Oh, and if that’s not enough, another claims that two-thirds of UK drivers are so confused by basic road signs they simply copy the driver in front.

But the most annoying survey of all (apart from one saying that today is the gloomiest day of the year) reckons there’s a strong link between being involved in sport and popularity. Apparently the more teams and clubs your children play for the more friends they’ll have.

Hmmm. It sounds like yet another thing for parents to fret about. Rather than agonising about my children getting into sports teams I was far keener to see them reading books, playing with friends, riding bikes, building dens and going for long country walks.

When my son was little all he wanted to do was emulate the creators of his favourite book, The Dangerous Book for Boys. He had no interest whatsoever in becoming the next David Beckham but saw co-authors Conn and Hal Iggulden as super-heroes. He thought they covered pretty much everything a 21st century boy needed to know (well nearly), from racing a go-kart to making paper planes.

I became a fan of the book too after reading an interview with Conn – where he expressed his fears that parents have become so terrified of letting boys be boys that we’re in danger of creating “a generation of frightened men.” He spent his own childhood constructing catapults and spud guns and thought today’s generation should switch off their Xboxes and computers for a change and go and do something more adventurous. Interestingly, Labour MP Diane Abbott takes a smilar line in today’s Evening Standard: “Carrying on with the chips and PlayStation 3 culture is not an option,” she says.

My son loves his Xbox as much as the next boy but he’s in total agreement with such sentiments. Rather than pleading to join the local football or tennis club, he threw himself into scary pursuits like mountain-boarding and biking – and has never looked back.

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