Format: Online, website
Suggested age: Intermediate students +, geared towards boys.
Based on the popular boy’s magazine, Boys Life, this website is an online spin off of this periodical created by the Scouts. Although developed by the Boy Scouts of America, Boys Life may have started out with Scouts in mind, but has evolved to appeal to all boys (and quite possibly many girls), regardless if they are members of a troop. The home page is jam-packed with animated gifs and links to draw the audience in to the wide variety of articles, contests, polls, games, projects, and videos. Boys Life has a rich online presence beyond the website with Facebook updates and Tweets.
For over 100 years, Scouts have followed a clear vision and method to meet their mission statement and, upon entering the 21st century, Scouts has evolved to meet the needs of their members by expanding the Scouting experience online. I must admit, I have not had direct experience with Scouts, or even Girl Guides, but it’s clear that they are organizations that provide hands-on, minds-on experiences for their members encouraging active participation. This website is no different with many opportunities for users to not only watch and read the jokes, videos, and articles, but are encouraged to submit their own to share on the website. BoysLife has numerous links to support hobbies and printable PDF files for hands on projects to do at home.
My own first impression of this website was that it was a little overwhelming with the scrolling sidebar, multiple sizes and fonts of text, animated pictures, however, upon showing this website to a ten year old boy in my library, I quickly realized that it was my own need for order that was influencing my experience. This boy sat down right away, excited to start exploring, completely unfazed by the seemingly busy landscape of this website. He was especially impressed that he could print projects to take home to show his parents. In short, I would recommend this website as a safe and age appropriate site to explore. It seems very well moderated and has multiple reminders for users to use a nickname rather than their actual names in comment threads and activity submissions. I always temper my recommendations for websites with the friendly reminder that all websites (however safe and suitable) are linked to the world wide web and it is always best to know what your child is exploring because a website that is not so age appropriate may be just a couple clicks away.