Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting Boys to Read—Part One

If you’re trying to get the reluctant young male reader in your life to read more often—or read at all—you might already know it can be a challenging feat. According to a national survey conducted by the Young Adult Library Services Association in 2001, boys (average age of 14) who weren’t interested in reading pointed to the following reasons:
  • boring/no fun--39.3%
  • no time/too busy--29.8%
  • like other activities better--11.1%
  • can’t get into the stories--7.7%
  • I’m not good at reading-- 4.3%

So how can a parent/guardian, teacher or librarian overcome these challenges? One way is to pay attention to what boys are reading. Smith and Wilhelm, authors of Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men, say boys differ from girls in the choices they make of reading material:
  • Boys are more inclined to read informational texts,magazines, and newspaper articles.
  • Boys are more inclined to read graphic novels and comic books.
  • Boys tend to resist reading stories about girls, whereas girls do not tend to resist reading stories about boys.
  • Boys like to read about hobbies, sports, and things they might do or be interested in doing.
  • Boys like to collect things and tend to like to collect series of books.
  • Boys read less fiction than girls.
  • Boys tend to enjoy escapism and humor, and some boys are passionate about science fiction or fantasy.

With those points in mind, here are some tips that can help encourage boys to read:

Tips and Strategies
  • Model reading. Studies show that when parents read and have books around, both boys and girls are more likely to be readers.
  • Give your boy a book. Giving books as gifts shows young people that books are special, valuable and important.
  • Read aloud. Reaching out loud has been called the single most important activity to building success in reading.
  • Make reading social. Invite boys to talk about something they’ve read—a book, newspaper article, or a story on the web. Encourage the social connection. People like to talk about what they’ve seen, done, experienced, and boys are no different. The right book can give boys something to connect with their friends about.
  • Encourage men to read with boys.

“Studies show that 90 percent of elementary school teachers are female,” says Michael Sullivan, director of the Weeks Public Library in New Hampshire and author of Connecting Boys With Books: What Libraries Can Do. “Seventy-five percent of high school teachers are female.” Most people who boys see connected with reading are female, he says, but boys identify with men. (to be continued tomorrow in Part Two)

Getting Boys to Read, copyright 2008 and 2011 by Just Us Books, Inc. All rights reserved.
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