The Purpose of Boys

Helping Our Sons Find Meaning, Significance, and Direction in Their Lives

Gurian reveals how important purpose is for the success and happiness of boys and explains how a boy’s core personality, nature and genetic predisposition function to create both strengths and weaknesses in his journey towards maturity. A review of this book is available.

264 pages. ©2010.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted June 17, 2022


Great book! Powerful read!


Review posted June 3, 2022


great book helps learn about building character


Review posted May 23, 2022


Such a good look into understanding boys! I have found myself looking at my son in a whole new way!


Review posted April 1, 2022


I found the information related to physiological differences in genders to be useful and thought provoking. It guided me to delving more into how mental health CAN take different approaches based on client gender but also, ways in which it isn't necessary and it actually contraindicated. I walked away with ways I can promote belonging, motivation and purpose for adolescent males, especially those that feel under pressure, stress and fear in their own masculinity.


Review posted March 1, 2022


This book was given to my sister who has 2 sons. She said it was enlightening.


Review posted December 3, 2021


This book was great with very helpful perspectives and insights on raising sons, after raising 2 daughters this provided what I needed to give me confidence in raising a boy.

Brittany Lee Young

Review posted August 25, 2021


I got this book because I saw the library had the audiobook. SO I followed along and was able to highlight sections that were important to remember. Raising a tween and prek boy as a single mom, I need all the help I can get and this book made me feel confident.


Review posted August 15, 2021


Where boys are left to wander most boys will wander. Author Gurian describes how to capture their attention and direct them toward moral and ethical purposes


Review posted April 20, 2021


As a single mother raising a son, I am really appreciating some of the dynamics the author points out. The thing with advice is to take what you want and leave the rest. There is plenty of great tips and advice in this book. What I appreciate the most about this book is the insight it gives to each age bracket. It helps me understand and better handle situations, emotions, and actions coming from my little one.


Review posted March 29, 2021


Great book to teach our sons the meaning of life!


Review posted February 6, 2021


Appreciated the writing style that parallels 'regular conversation'. The exercises seem easy to follow, plenty of references to other meaningful and useful books, as well.


Review posted January 18, 2021


thoughtful and compelling- good for educators and young parents

Lorri E

Review posted January 4, 2021


Good read and helpful perspectives for raising young boys. Had more religious/biblical references than I was expecting.

Forever learning

Review posted December 6, 2020


This book was very helpful in opening my eyes to understanding my own son.


Review posted October 9, 2020


An in depth look at how a male point of view is distinctly unique and how it affects their functioning and self awareness.


Review posted September 16, 2020


This book is very insightful and really helped me understand more about my boys. I love that I have the power to help them find their purpose without putting pressure on them.


Review posted September 15, 2020


This was an excellent book and so important to more fully understand the challenges facing boys and men in this rapidly changing time. As a mom of two young sons, I have felt the pressure and responsibility to help my boys discover their purpose. It is so important to teach boys to feel and express a full range of emotions. I was alarmed by the statistics on incarceration rates, crime, medication use, college attendance, etc. and I think we are doing our boys (and girls) a disservice by not recognizing (and acting on) the physiological differences in their brains, bodies, and ways they learn. This book is packed with kernels of wisdom that I'll be unpacking for a long time. I have recommended to all my friends and relatives with sons.

Toby Abraham-Rhine

Review posted September 8, 2020


If you do t have time to read the entire book then at least do yourself a favour and read chapters 6 and 7. The first five chapters give you the foundation of theory, but I thoroughly appreciate the practical advice and mindset shifts that are provided in 6 and especially 7. Every educator, counselor, parent and anyone who works with children would benefit from the neuroscience and enlightenment of these particular chapters.


Review posted September 5, 2020


This was a wonderful book. I wish I had read it sooner and have recommended it to many people. Excellent!


Review posted July 9, 2020


Such a good book--but it does start a bit slow. We all need to understand and help boys of all ages become their best selves.


Review posted June 22, 2020


I recommend this book for parent who is raising a son and wants to build character, morality, career goals, selflessness, and responsibility. The book is easy to read and is divided into different parts of life (eg age groups). I will definitely be using these lessons to raise my son


Review posted June 14, 2020


Such an important book for us all to read. Important for boys, parents, educators and all others alike!


Review posted June 12, 2020


good read and important info


Review posted May 4, 2020


I was curious about this book and it met all my expectations. I was wanting to use this in my profession and in my personal life. 5/5 stars and would recommend to anyone looking for similar answers.


Review posted April 8, 2020


Michael Gurian does a great job defining the inner workings of a boy's mind. He also gives parents great advice about how to bring out the best in children.


Review posted February 15, 2020


A great book showing the difference of boys and girls on how their brain works. I recommend this book for a father to teach his son their purpose and meaning. The graphs were a bit boring but once past those it was an excellent read.


Review posted February 4, 2020


This book has transformed my relationship with my pre-teen son and increased my empathy for all of the men in my life. Some of the concepts or stories made me uncomfortable, but (like many books) maybe the discomfort was a correction for extreme thinking - in this case, extremes regarding gender equality. I'm glad I read this!


Review posted January 27, 2020


An excellent resource for parents or anyone who works with male-identified children & youth. As a person who did not grow up with brothers, had a lot of questions about what was "normal" or acceptable, and worry about the best way to support boys in a healthy way. This book helps normalize some of this, taking into account the needs of boys as well as protecting them against the toxic masculinity so often pushed in our culture.


Review posted January 21, 2020


As I read "The Purpose of Boys" I kept thinking back to how in our current American culture we do not have anything that serves as a true coming of age ceremony for our boys. The diverse cultures in America send a barrage of mixed messages on what constitutes masculinity and places meaning on behavior and activities that often results in a toxic mix that festers within the boys that often results in acting out in anger. I did find that this book helpful, it provided a framework that I added to my self reflection of my classroom practices. It has helped me frame some of my questions as a continue to research methods of working with students who are dealing with multiple ACES and other hardships. This is a helpful resource that can be integrated into programs to help boys as long as one takes he time to modify the guidance provided to fit the needs of your students.


Review posted January 10, 2020


Very scholarly yet fun and accurate in getting to the heart of what boys are all about.


Review posted October 12, 2019


This was a wonderful book I am so glad that I got this one


Review posted September 27, 2019


Absolutely loved this book! Sat down and read it almost in a day.


Review posted September 20, 2019


A great book for parents of boys to read. I grew up in a family of all girls and now I am a mother to all boys, so it was very helpful to have this insight!


Review posted September 10, 2019


I really enjoyed this book. It did take me a little while to get into it, so my advice would be to keep reading even if the first little bit is slow. I have a five year old son and I teach high school English, so I interact with young men on a daily basis. This book has given me some insight into what it's like to be a young man in modern-day America, and I have appreciated and applied that insight regularly since reading this book. This book looks at how important it is to instill purpose in boys, and how with purpose they can harness their natural energy to achieve greatness.


Review posted August 5, 2019


A great and positive book about boy development. I loved learning about the biological differences between male and female brains that correlate to some of the differences with their learning and life experiences. Geared strongly towards both parents and educators.


Review posted July 17, 2019


As a mother of three daughters I was concerned that as grandparent to 5 beautiful boys I might not be as supportive to their unique development need. The Purpose of Boys helped raise my awareness of the issues, and encourage my daughters and their husbands to read this book and open discussions about it. Michael Gurian does a great job defining the differences between the brains of boys and girls, citing research to back up his statements. He also gives parents great advice about how to capitalize on these differences to bring out the best in children. He reveals why boys need to have purpose without which they will get in trouble and discusses how we can help boys feel useful, develop purpose, and become successful men. This book is a must read for anyone who has, teaches, or mentors boys!


Review posted June 18, 2019


This book gave me some great insight into boys, some things I already knew. I found that raising boys can be easy if you just follow their cues.


Review posted May 15, 2019


The book The Purpose of Boys gives an overview into how the male brain develops. It discusses the search for finding meaning in the life of boys, helping them to find their purpose and promote the growth of strong adults. The book discusses the questions that one should ask to their sons to get them thinking about what makes a good man and many factors that contribute to this idea, such as brain development. The author does thorough research into this matter, with many statistics in just the first two chapters alone. The information presented makes the reader think about what makes a boy function and grow as well as what we as parents and educators can do in order to foster growth of young men. I appreciate the definition of the word “Heroic” in determining how to help foster the growth of a young boy. This book makes me think about the little things that can be done in my classroom with high school boys to encourage and foster healthy growth into respectable young men, to change the statistics in the beginning of the book. I believe that through reading this book, I have a better understanding of how to help, not only my young boy, but the high school-aged students that I work with as well.


Review posted May 4, 2019


It helped me to better understand boys


Review posted April 14, 2019


This book is written to be easily accessible, engaging and informative. It provides statistics, anecdotes and insight on our boys and is a great tool for building conversation.


Review posted April 2, 2019


Very informative and insightful book! I recommend this to anyone who has boys!


Review posted April 1, 2019


Good read very helpful to me as a single mom of a young boy. Do wish it talked a bit mire about possible anger or frustration of a younger boy though.


Review posted March 18, 2019


It's an interesting book about boys and how they get motivated to achieve goals in today's world. It distinguishes the difference between the genders (boys and girls) and how their brains operate in distinctive modes. An educational and inspiring read.


Review posted March 15, 2019


helpful look at socialization issues for young men


Review posted March 6, 2019


I found this book to be insightful in to how boys grow and develop. I have 3 sons and was constantly baffled and frustrated with how they seemed to be completely unmotivated. By changing how I interact with them and give them challenges they have started to really come into their own.


Review posted February 22, 2019


Fantastic! Every parent should ready this book!


Review posted January 26, 2019


I ordered this to not only read for home as I have a son that is 17, but also because I work with a population of at risk youth. I enjoyed having the ability to relay this information casually and add it naturally to discussions, whether small or big. I would recommend.

Patricia Jarrett

Review posted December 17, 2018


I really enjoy this book I wish I had read it when my son was younger, it’s simple and easy to understand.


Review posted December 10, 2018


A resource in helping one understand how to navigate boys toward their purpose physically, spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. Working with young boys (middle school age) this was a very good book for opening my eyes, through scientific information.


Review posted October 6, 2018


Outstanding information! I thoroughly enjoyed the book.


Review posted August 22, 2018


Fascinating and useful information for anyone raising or working with children.


Review posted June 13, 2018


excellent resource!!


Review posted May 27, 2018


Probably my favorite book so far. Really useful information. I couldn't put it down!


Review posted May 2, 2018


Helpful for those who work with boys or have lots of boys that need support in their lives.


Review posted March 31, 2018


This book was so enlightening! It had me thinking on multiple levels, as a mother and as an educator! It was easy to read and had practical things that family members can do to help support and encourage the boys in their lives! I would highly recommend this book!


Review posted December 12, 2017


I loved this book, it helps me understand my son better, and communicate better with him.


Review posted November 12, 2017


While this book does provide insight into the needs of males as they mature into young men, the biblical/religious references were somewhat off-putting to me.


Review posted September 17, 2017


This was a great read to find how to help boys in education.


Review posted August 22, 2017


As a single mother, this book has helped me to understand some differences between male/female that I had not thought of before. This book will help me to continue being a great mom, but with a deeper understanding of my son's mind.


Review posted March 5, 2017


I found "The Purpose of Boys" to be a very relevant and timely read. Millennial boys are succeeding at a much lower rate than their female counterparts regardless of opportunity and socio-economic background. The statistics are troubling. Author Michael Gurian does an expert job explaining where, socially, things started going wrong for our boys and young men and follows up with relevant stories and statistics to explain what the current situation is. Most importantly, he provides the reader with an abundance of real-world solutions that are usable by most anyone; parent, educator, or religious leader. I will be using the information in this book to advocate for advancing public school programs to better address the needs of boys. One of the first steps has been to help parents and educators understand that there is a more immediate and acute problem than they may realize. Knowing real statistics that, for instance, for every 100 girls expelled from school 335 boys are expelled, is a powerful tool that Guarian's book provides. I will also be using the information in this book to provide for the needs of my own pre-teen son. There are some wonderful examples of conversations-starters and questions to ask myself and my son to understand what his individual needs might be. "Son, what brings you the most joy in life," and "What is most stressful or desperate in your life right now," or just "How do you want to help people?" are a few examples of things we forget to discuss. I typically don't give five-star reviews but, mostly due to the urgency of the topic, this book comes close. The only thing I struggled with was that there was a good deal of redundancy toward the end of the book. I would suggest using this book more as a text book or reference book than a cover-to-cover read focusing on the chapters and statistics that are most relevant to you.

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Review posted February 1, 2017


Michael Gurian's book is important for everyone to read, especially in light of current attention given to women's rights and equity. As Gurian points out, women outnumber men at every level of educational attainment. For every 100 women enrolled in college there are 77 men. The ratio for associate’s degrees is 100 women to 67 men; for bachelor’s degrees, 100 women to 73 men; and for masters' degrees, 100 women to 62 men. On the flip side, boys are diagnosed with learning disabilities or emotional disturbances 3 to 1 and are expelled from public schools at the same 3 to 1 ratio. Teenage boys outnumber girls in correctional facilities 8 to 1, and commit suicide 5 to 1. Clearly boys are struggling – across all socio-economic classes. But Gurian’s book doesn’t dwell on dire statistics. He explains the biochemical differences between boys and girls from research and science perspectives and provides tools and effective strategies for parents and the community to help guide boys to successful adulthood.


Review posted January 8, 2017


This book raises awareness to the need for our communities to meet young men where they are at and usher them into a new era of masculinity.


Review posted October 11, 2016


This book was a fast read with great information!!


Review posted May 29, 2016


I hesitated in ordering a book that proposes a gender based approach to guiding young boys. I think there is value in the recommendations of Gurian and his approach. There are many things I will put into practice from this informative book.


Review posted May 19, 2016


This book is very informative on how your son would act and how you should push them toward to be successful in life.


Review posted April 15, 2016


Extremely Helpful! I learned so much about how to help my son. Thank you


Review posted January 28, 2016


I did not love this book.


Review posted December 30, 2015


This is great information and good reading. It helps me consider the role of extended family and the community when it comes to raising up boys.


Review posted December 22, 2015


The first few chapters, that focus on development, were fascinating. It became a slow, tough read towards the end. I work with teenage boys and was hoping to gain insights. I did find my previously held perspectives affirmed. I would recommend.


Review posted December 16, 2015


Good book for those with sons :)


Review posted December 1, 2015


I got this book because I am the coordinator for a college and career readiness mentoring program who noticed that boys were reluctant to sign up and those that did, though they were engaged at first, had the tendency to drop out. I wanted to read a book that allowed me to see inside the minds of boys and know how to support them. As a coordinator looking for tips on how to reach boys the book's discussion questions were good in theory, but difficult to practice. The language is pretty easy to follow and all and all it is a decent book.


Review posted November 20, 2015


learned a lot about what boys need to have to succeed

Mr. Bizjak

Review posted November 4, 2015


Love, love this book! I read this book as part of our book study group. We learned so much about the nuances of boys.


Review posted November 2, 2015


This book really gave me an insight on how to properly raise a boy to become someone who has meaning in life and lives a life with direction.


Review posted September 29, 2015


This is a thoughtful and well-written book. It reinforces much of what we learned growing up, but often forget in our busy lives. I do recommend the book for anyone who has sons (or daughters for that matter!) or who works with kids.

Theresa Smith

Review posted September 9, 2015


This book is a must read for anyone that is raising boys (no matter what age). As a grandparent times have changed since I raised my children and it is important for me to educate myself as I have two grandchildren (boy and girl) and have a close relationship with them. I find they confide in me with questions and in order to relate to them I need to keep up on the world THEY are now living in from technology, schools, finances and the list goes on. Not only does the author do an excellent job explaining the differences between boys and girls but also creates a good undertstanding of the research and the science behind these differences. It also introduces the "three family concept" because now that in many families both parents are working...they need to realize and can benefit greatly from accepting the help of a family member (s) or mentor in guiding their boys as they navigate through life. This book would be a great "gift" for new and seasoned parents and grandparents as well...a fasinating read!


Review posted July 4, 2015


Useful book. It helped me to better understand teen boys I engage during community service.

Sarah Mae

Review posted March 15, 2015


This book is what I have been looking for to help my young son. It offers so much needed guidance.


Review posted February 4, 2015


The Purpose of Boys by Michael Gurian I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Portland a few years ago when Gurian was the keynote speaker. I purchased his book The Wonder of Boys at that time. An excellent read and resource. When I ordered the The Purpose of Boys I was excited to 'dig' in to it. It was not disappointing. The 10 Values, Rites of Passage, and information on the brain's gender differences were fascinating and applicable in today's culture. I am passing this book along to my daughter who is currently raising a 15 year old boy. My hope is that she can actively use this information in forming that wonderful boy into a wonderful man. As a therapist I gleaned a great deal of affirmation and information for my work with boys. I Highly recommend this read...

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Review posted December 30, 2014


The book -- the third I've read of Gurian's -- offers helpful ideas for building community around/for boys and gives really good questions that you can use in different settings, for boys as well as for the other adults in their lives. Thank you for making the title available through Select Books!!!