Why Don't Boys Like to Read?by Ann Dolin
Boys as a rule don’t read as well as girls. And a major reason for this discrepancy is that girls tend to read for pleasure, while boys don't.
What accounts for this difference?
The nation’s Report Card notes that 53 percent of the fourth-grade girls said they read for fun on their own time almost every day while only 39 percent of the boys said they do the same.
What kinds of books will get boys engaged?
The simple fact is that most boys would be better readers if they read more, but there are several major reasons why they don't. Young boys tend to like stories about sports, animals, and adventure tales with male protagonists or natural events; however, books about these subjects are often hard to find in classrooms and school libraries. A recent study found that the genres preferred by boys were available in only one-third of classrooms surveyed.
Is reading considered to be “girly”?
Also contributing to boys' reluctance to read is the view that reading is a feminine activity. This perception no doubt leads many boys into banding together with their peers in rejecting reading.
Here are some tips on how to help your son become an enthusiastic reader:
Be a Detective
The first step is figuring out what interests your child. Does your son love baseball? Consider reading short, high-interest stories in Sports Illustrated for Kids. Once you get your child hooked, take it one step further by finding related books on the subject. For your baseball-loving boy, try one of the books in the Matt Christopher series. He’s a great author who writes engaging, easy-to-read books about every sport imaginable.
Delve Into a Series
Even the most reluctant readers will latch on to a series such as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” or will engage in the short passages of “The Guinness Book of World Records”. It’s important not to worry so much about whether or not the book is a classic or even good literature. The point is to get the child reading. And quite often, when a child enjoys a book, he’ll seek out the next book in the series or another title by the same author.
Reread a Favorite Book
Interestingly, comprehension and fluency are boosted when the student reads books slightly below his current reading level. If your child tends to gravitate towards easier books, allow him to do so. Moreover, students improve their reading fluency when they read a passage or book three times. Repeated readings help with automaticity, not just at that time, but down the road as well.
Use the 5 Finger Rule
If you’re not sure if a book is too difficult, use the five finger rule. If your child mispronounces five or more words on one page, the book is too hard. If he misses four words, reading will be a challenge, but can be done. In this case, it’s wise for the parent to read two pages, the child to read one, and so on. Children will find more enjoyment in reading when you use this 2:1 ratio.
Another option is to consider buying an e-reader, such as a Kindle. Your son will be able to read along with a book that may be just above his level and listen, too. Technology will open up a whole new world to your son.
Relax and Read without Criticizing
The last step to getting your child to read is to carve out time each evening for reading. During this time, lie down in bed with your child or children, relax, and read aloud. Take turns, laugh together, and enjoy the moment. As much as possible, do not correct your child’s mistakes unless they detract from the meaning of the story. As soon as kids feel pressured or judged, they’re less willing to read.
When your child begins to associate reading with evening relaxation and the fun of delving into a page-turning book, he’ll be more likely to read independently and for pleasure later on.
Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder and president of Educational Connections Tutoring and Test Prep in Fairfax, VA and Bethesda, MD. In her award-winning book, Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions to Stress-Free Homework , Dolin offers proven solutions to help the six key types of students who struggle with homework. Numerous examples and easy-to-implement, fun tips will help make learning less of a chore for the whole family. Learn more at anndolin.com or ectutoring.com.