Posted by: cindybiz | September 22, 2009

Boys…and reading

Do you have trouble getting your boys to read? Are they reluctant readers…or is it just overwhelming for them? For some, they just don’t understand what the purpose of reading is…they don’t realize it is a great way to experience a very big world without having to leave the house!boys reading

Sometimes we forget that reading does not have to be novels…there are just so many other options out there. There are many excellent non-fiction books that help build confident readers while satisfying the “need to know” about specific topics. For my husband, when his mom took him to the library, he would always head right for the weather section and devour all the information he could find…and the closest to fiction he got were Peanuts comics! So when we started homeschooling and I asked him to read novels at night to the kids, he baulked at it…he “didn’t like” fiction. But, he was surprised, once he got into the novels, how engaging they can be. Sometimes it just takes the “right” book to grab their attention.

Why do boys stop being interested in reading? Here are some thoughts:

– “Boys will be boys” – Is the decreased interest in reading just because boys just don’t like to read and write? Most educators would disagree.
– Male role models that are interested in literacy are few and far between and hence reading is not seen as an acceptable activity for young boys.
– Current curricular emphasis, text availability and teacher preferences don’t often lend to the selections of texts for a classroom that boys might find interesting.
– Schools have been slow to change their definition of literacy to include non-traditional reading materials, which boys tend to like. (more info at TVO Parents)

So, what can we do as parents, to encourage our boys (whatever age they are!)? Here are some of my thoughts:

– As in my husband’s case, maybe boys just don’t know what they are missing! There are novels that might be more suited to their interest and it is worth seeking them out so their world can be opened up a bit! I found a neat website called “Guys Read” with some good reading suggestions (just be aware that I am not endorsing everything on this site, but from what I saw, I liked the lists!)

– Have you check out all the amazing non-fiction out there? Usborne Books was started because Peter Usborne wanted books that would “suck in” the readers and get them away from TV and into books. Today, the company continues to offer amazing books that are very compelling, with many “True” stories that are right up boys’ alleys!

– There are a lot of “non-traditional” reading materials that are sometimes overlooked:  “how-to” or informational books, fantasy, action, comic books, sports magazines, computer/gaming magazines and science fiction.

– One thing I did with my son (when he was still at an age when I could control such things) was to not allow him to watch movies such as Lord of the Rings unless he read the books (which he did…and enjoyed!)

– Read to your boys (and girls!), long after they can read for themselves. It is a different experience to hear a book and visualize it and it helps to make it a better experience if they are struggling with their reading. And it is a wonderful family time to share a story together!

So, if you are frustrated with your boy because he is not reading all the time, be sure to take inventory of what they are reading…you may be surprised. And why not pick up a magazine or comic book (my son read every Calvin and Hobbs book published)…or some great non-fiction and leave it lying on the table…you just might find it disappears to his room!

Are you having challenges with your boys? Love to hear your thoughts (and ideas)!

Photo Credits: foxtongue (Creative Commons license on Flickr)

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