The importance of reading cannot be stressed enough. In every study conducted, literacy rates are directly related to economic, social and personal success. Areas with low literacy rates are often plagued with teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and crime. The correlation is so clear that the state of Arizona uses literacy test results for third graders to determine the number of prison beds that will be needed in the future.
There are many theories that try to explain why getting boys to read is sometimes so difficult. Some claim that literacy is not seen as a masculine trait, while others state it is the lack a male role model. Yet other theories claim the public school system is at fault. The fact is that boys develop differently than girls. Part of that difference is boys take longer than girls to develop comparable literacy skills. These early failures can lead to a serious aversion to reading.
Most parents and teachers know that young boys often prefer playing outside to sitting down with a book. So how can adults get boys to read? These handy tips can make the difference between lost opportunities and a love of reading that will carry young boys successfully into adulthood.
1. Early exposure – Reading to infants and young children is one of the easiest ways to develop a love of books and reading. Maintaining a wide variety of reading materials within the home also boosts reading rates.
2. Set a good example – When children see parents reading for pleasure and information, they are more likely to do the same.
3. Build books at home – Young children enjoy creating books about themselves, their pets or family or special outings. Creating these can help generate a positive attitude towards books.
4. Choose the right books – Generally, boys prefer books that are gross, action-packed or that put them in control. The Choose Your Own Adventure series is an excellent example of boy-friendly books.
5. Explore nonfiction – Boys tend to prefer nonfiction over books flooded with emotions and relationships. Parents can take advantage of this fact by encouraging boys to read instructions, manuals and other nonfiction works.
6. Keep it positive – Choose good times to offer books. After rough-and-tumble play, boys are more likely to feel comfortable sitting still for an extended period. Also, be sure to avoid criticism, nagging or other negative responses.
According to John Scieszka, first national ambassador of Young People’s Literature and founder of Guys Read, a boys literacy support website, reading interest and ability levels continue to drop among male children. The website offers a diverse selection of boy-friendly books, broken down by category, to help parents and children find books that may stimulate interest in a reluctant reader.