Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood” as Want to Read:
Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,273 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Featuring a new preface by the author on how parents can make a difference.

With author appearances on Good Morning America, The Today Show, 20 /20 and NPR's Fresh Air, and featuring articles in Newsweek, Time, and The New York Times, Real Boys is one of the most talked-about and influential books published this year.

Based on William Pollack's groundbreaking research at Har
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 10th 1999 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Real Boys, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Real Boys

The Baby Book by William SearsHow to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele FaberWhat to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi MurkoffThe Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey KarpThe No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
Most Influential Parenting Books
65th out of 279 books — 463 voters
Remaking Manhood by Mark  GreeneAngry White Men by Michael S. KimmelThe Macho Paradox by Jackson KatzDude, You're a Fag by C.J. PascoeStiffed by Susan Faludi
Men and Masculinity
89th out of 130 books — 24 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 05, 2007 nicebutnubbly rated it did not like it
Crappy. Seriously, this came highly recommended, but I was totally unimpressed. At the same time as he pushes the obvious (don't tell your son to "act like a man" when he cries, take his feelings seriously, &etc.) the author is also doing whole chapters on the special (and different!) relationships between mothers and sons and fathers and sons. In other words, there's no attempt to repudiate the gender divide, only to ameliorate its negative effects on boys. He's perpetuating the mother/fath ...more
Apr 19, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
We are doing a great disservice to our sons with some of the cultural expectations we place on them. This book compassionately explains many of the problems boys face in our society and what we can do to help. I grew up with all sisters and didn't have a lot of experience with boys and men until I married. This book has helped me understand my husband and son better. I especially liked the explanation of active love and how boys and girls express closeness differently at times. I hope it's helpe ...more
Aug 22, 2007 Vickie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who knows a boy
I have six brothers and I thought I knew about boys. Nope. I learned a lot. I've heard some complain about this book because boys have had it a lot easier (in terms of not being oppressed in society) than girls. So I'll wield my title as the girl voted biggest feminist in high school when I argue that Pollack makes needed points about boys. All of our kids need help in todays world. Girls and boys.
Leila T.
May 07, 2010 Leila T. marked it as to-read
Shelves: unfinished
I'm only about a third of the way through this, but I'm finding it such a slog. Last night I picked up "The Tao of Pooh", because I'd left my copy of "Real Boys" downstairs and I couldn't be bothered going to get it, and I was so relieved to read something enjoyable. Not sure whether I'm going to be able to come back to "Real Boys". Because of:

1. It is in serious need of editing: I don't expect a psychologist to be a brilliant writer, but I do expect a published book to be in better shape than t
Kelly Colln
Feb 13, 2008 Kelly Colln rated it liked it
I read this book YEARS ago when my son was going into the tween stage. Since we homeschool, I couldn't identify much with what the author said, but....I could really identify with his points from a former public school teacher's perspective. When Columbine first thought was, "I bet those boys were bullied unmercifully growing up." Not condoning what they did, but acknowledging their pain, also. Then this book came out. I thought it had some really good points. I do believe we need ...more
Aug 25, 2008 Adriana rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Adriana by: Katrina
This was an incredibly thoughtful baby gift, and it's totally fascinating. Basically the thesis is, boys can never be too bonded with both parents, especially mother, contrary to society's stereotypes which promote independence at such an early age as 5 or 6 years old for boys. Also explores how we unknowingly "harden" our little boys to become "little men" leading to all kinds of problems later on. Explores the two (and, with divorce or loss of a parent, sometimes three) traumas of boyhood that ...more
Dec 10, 2008 Brent rated it really liked it
Pollack adamantly challenged the idealized tough love, suck up the pain, distant approach to raising boys that has been predominant in the United States for generations. In contrast, Pollack advocated for a new approach to raising boys characterized by compassion, empathy, intimacy, support, and engagement. He offers useful tips, but they must be applied with a artful hand. They seem to be a good step for the development of boys across the country but they are not the silver bullet. Pollack’s wo ...more
Oct 25, 2008 Kathy marked it as gave-up-on  ·  review of another edition
I ended up giving up on this book, mostly because of time issues and it was due back at the library. I may check it out again sometime. It had some good ideas in it and a lot of things I kind of already knew or do anyway. I described it already a little in the comment section. I guess what I took from it was just to be more aware in general of my boys' emotional needs, to try to talk to them more about feelings. One thing mentioned was how even from babyhood when boys are sad or upset we try to ...more
Jan 03, 2015 Em rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender-studies
The forward to this book was written by Mary Pipher and the approach that Pollack too is not dissimilar that that Pipher used in 'Reviving Ophelia'. Oh but Pollack was not as concise as Pipher. I thin he could have made his points in 200 or so fewer pages because he became very repetitive. But I will also admit that reading it in :20 min spurts didn't make it flow any better - but the too when I read more solidly the past few days the last 175 pages was still a slog. The ideas underlying the wor ...more
Feb 03, 2008 Monica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who knows a boy
This is a sort of psychology textbook, along the lines of Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, except for boys. There are sixteen chapters including the epilogue. The book discusses gender-straightjacketing, shaming a boy into wearing a hardened mask so that we don't know a real boy and what he is truly thinking. It discusses the various things boys need to develop emotionally in a proper way. It discusses how society often confuses boys, telling them to be sensitive and open up, yet at the same tim ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Hundeschlitten rated it liked it
As the father of two young sons, I was told that I should read this. I think the most memorable thing I take away from it is how times have changed in the 14 years since its initial publication. It assumes that the first day in kindergarten marks the initial separation from a mother and her son and is a traumatic event, whereas preschool is now so ubiquitous as to make this concern either obsolete, or at the least folded into much earlier trauma. It regards stay at home dads as a rare (albeit we ...more
Lisa Butterworth
Jun 14, 2012 Lisa Butterworth rated it really liked it
I decided to read this because my son is having a hard time emotionally right now, and I wanted to better understand the pressures we put on boys in our culture. I really liked this book (other than it being a little repetitive and long winded)and ,it did a great job of putting voice to those niggling worries that there is something off in the way we as a culture treat our boys, and clearly lays out all the pressures boys feel to perform their boyness (he calls it the boy code) in very specific ...more
Andrea Thorpe
Aug 27, 2012 Andrea Thorpe rated it it was amazing
One of the best parenting books I've read. I was disenchanted by the redundancy in the beginning, but after a couple of chapters it was a wealth of information about boys. Pollack attempts to break down stereotypes surrounding why boys are so "closed off" with emotions, how they get that way, how society perpetrates the problem, and what we can do as parents to counteract it. He tackles important subjects such as the "mask" of masculinity, shame and the trauma of separation from the mother, how ...more
Chris Gager
Nov 25, 2015 Chris Gager rated it liked it
I'm unlikely to read this whole thing but youneverknow. Right now I'm skipping around and browsing. The generic/cultural failings of my boy-to-man upbringing were doubled down on by the serious dysfunction and chaos of growing up with a father who was low-bottom alcoholic. At the age of 68 I can only look back(and not stare), tell it like it was and try to get better one day at a time.

I've decided that I'm not going back to finish this. There's too much of it and I've got other literary fish to
Mar 20, 2008 Helen rated it really liked it
My ex-husbabnd and I decided to wait for birth to know the gender of our child. If I were to have given birth to a girl, I figured I would know how to raise an enlightened daughter. And when I gave birth to a son, I most definately knew I was not prepared.

This book brought up so many good points about the challenges facing boys growing up in the USA. I had no idea of the tests and travails that awaited me in trying to raise a son with a full emotion vocabulary, and the ability to express these
Jul 04, 2008 Tristi rated it it was ok
I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I agree with the author's contention that we need to stop making boys feel like they should never show any emotion. Having three boys myself, I do understand that emotionally, they are sometimes more sensitive than girls and they should be permitted to work through their feelings with the same freedom we give girls. On the other hand, I felt as if the author wanted us to treat boys *so* carefully that we were almost turning away from normal rela ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Alex rated it it was amazing
Shelves: high-school
I re-read this for my first year of college. Boy did it help. It helped me earn my A+ in all three of my Early Childhood Education classes. She even sent me an email asking if I would give her my copy to borrow so she could read it. Along with that email she said I wrote the best Final Essay out of 78 Students. Over half of them were already ECE professionals just taking the class for continued education requirements.
Jan 11, 2010 Sheila rated it liked it
This is a thoughtful book, and I do think it's a wonderful thing that Dr. Pollack is doing in recommending we look at the gender straight-jacketing that boys are suffering. Clearly, we are failing our boys when you look at the statistics. However, it was just a big too wordy and he made the same points over and over. It would have had just as much impact and been more entertaining if it had been more thoroghly edited.
May 18, 2013 JP rated it liked it
Thoughtful but tends just slightly toward too touchy-feely and too much toward the exceptional cases. About half of the content would relate to the average boy in a two-parent family. It's worth reading once if you parent boys. There are some good points about the inequality in the treatment of boys vs. girls -- girls receive a disproportionate share of the attention and much more leniency in certain matters.
Ashley Wayman
Aug 10, 2008 Ashley Wayman rated it really liked it
For so long, Doctors have examined the interworkings and complexitites of women in an attempt to describe their behaviors within society. While such documentation has proven to be indightful, "Real Boys" takes a rare (and rather in-depth) inventory into the innate social, phisiological and behavioral dispositions of young men. Very interesting and entirely relevant.
Mar 02, 2008 Jessica Comey rated it really liked it
I am still in the process of reading. most of the books i read about are the struggle of women and their relationship with men. but, in teaching little boys and watching them strggle to communicate or embarrassed to express themselves, i became curious as to what we are teaching our youth and young men. i know society has certainly done a number on young women.....but what about the boys???
Mar 15, 2015 Lizzy rated it liked it
I really liked what he had to say about adolescent boys emotions and ways to reach out to them, for both parents and teachers. I think every parent of a son should read this. However, the book was longer than it needed to be, and he overstated his point and stories way too much. Maybe there's an abridged version?
Jun 25, 2008 Valerie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ian
I learned a lot about boys, which is good since I have two. Another must for parents, educators and those interested by being male or having to deal with those who are.
Renee Reynolds
Aug 12, 2009 Renee Reynolds rated it liked it
There's so much to this book about dispelling the boy myths. Great information...if only I could get through it.
Dec 14, 2008 Joan rated it it was amazing
A must read for all Mothers of pre-pubescent boys.....
Dec 01, 2015 Erin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any parent of a boy; All teachers
Another mind-blowing parenting book, that I hope to read a second time! A must for all parents of boys, and all teachers. Such a succinctly written, in-depth analysis and exlanation of how our culture creates dysfunction in our boys, and exactly how we can counteract it.

After reading this book, I really understand the male experience like I never could have before. If as a woman, you've ever been frustrated by a male in your life, read this book and you will no longer feel frustrated, but empath
Feb 10, 2016 Chris marked it as abandoned
I gave this book a fair shake. 100 pages in, and I'm signing out.

Generally speaking, I'm incredibly interested in the broad themes that the author discusses in this book. I'm a feminist and I was a women studies major, and the way that patriarchy binds and silences all of us is an interesting subject to me. Nevertheless, I'm out on this book. Main problems:

1. I really thought that this author would be able to explore these concepts in a new way for me. I'm raising a son, and I appreciate perspec
Tim Dugan
Sep 21, 2016 Tim Dugan rated it liked it

Some good info but not enough 'how to' that was useful.

don't make boys suppress emotions ("boys/men don't cry!")
be a good example
recognize boys behavior patterns and work with them to get them to express their feelings

what else?
Aug 13, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it
This is a really long read, and it's pretty dry. It's written in part like a psychology manual, and in part like an aide for parents who want to raise well-rounded sons.

Because that's what it is.

But if you're a feminist, and you're not familiar with men's studies, then you will benefit from this book. It's not about men's rights. It's not about privileged people feeling left out of the feminism/equality movements.

The inequalities that feminism works against, the vulnerability and harassment that
Joceline Foley
Jul 19, 2011 Joceline Foley rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, and maybe I will when my boys are older (they are currently 1 and 3), but I felt like it was unproductively guilt-inducing, repetitive, and unnecessarily long. The basic gist is that boys disconnect emotionally from parents, teachers, etc. because they are forced to separate from their mothers when they are not ready, are forced to take on responsibility before they are ready, and are never allowed to voice deep emotion. I can agree with all of those things, bu ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Wonder of Boys
  • Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
  • Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem, and the Confidence Gap
  • Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes
  • The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do
  • The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander
  • Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them
  • Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self
  • Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls
  • Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children
  • Becoming the Parent You Want To Be
  • Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child
  • The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls
  • The Shelter of Each Other
  • Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes And The Myth Of The Slut
  • The Way of Boys: Promoting the Social and Emotional Development of Young Boys
  • Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents
  • Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads: Dealing with the Parents, Teachers, Coaches, and Counselors Who Can Make--Or Break--Your Child's Future

Share This Book

“The (Boy) code is a set of behaviors, rules of conduct, cultural shibboleths, and even a lexicon, that is inculcated into boys by our society- from the very beginning of a boy's life. In effect we hold up a mirror to our boys that reflects back a distorted and outmoded image of the ideal boy- an image that our boys feel under great pressure to emulate.” 2 likes
More quotes…