Think of all the people you know who are avid readers. What percentage are men and what percentage are women? Surveys consistently find that women read more books as a pastime than men.
As a mother of two little boys, this is concerning for me. Strong readers experience success at school in a myriad of ways. In a study of 17,000 subjects published by The Guardian, Dr. Alice Sullivan found that reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics. In fact, the impact was around four times greater than that of having a parent with a post-secondary degree. So much of school involves reading that if a child falls behind in this area school becomes less fun, which results in the child falling further behind, which culminates in school being less fun. You see the downward spiral. Boys especially dislike doing things they don’t feel good at, particularly in front of their peers. On his web site, guysread.com, teacher and author Jon Scieszka writes,“Because the majority of adults involved in kids’ reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity.”
So what are some ways to get your boy reading? First of all, pick books that interest him. Here are some suggestions:
- Non-fiction books (Even for little kids. You can find your 3 year old plenty of truck books.)
- And yes, funny in ways moms don’t appreciate…you know, boogers and farts.
- Books with pictures, comic books or graphic novels
- Boy protagonists. We all want to see ourselves in the hero.
- Book versions of their favorite TV shows; Paw Patrol, Ninjago, or Teen Titans Go for instance. I know it’s not classic literature, but the point is to get your kid reading.
Secondly, get Dad or Grandpa or Uncle Kevin reading to your boys. Even if it’s once a week. Boys should see men read to know it’s not only a pastime for girls.
Next, of course, read. Kids do what they see modeled for them.
Lastly, make reading special and fun. There are lots of ways you can do this. One friend of mine made a reading tent for her kids complete with a painted tree on the wall, twinkly lights, plush pillows and a tent roof. My mom used to tell us “today we are going to have a read-a-thon.” We could check out as many books as we wanted, we made snacks, got a pile of blankets and pillows, and she would read to us for hours. A coworker of mine told me she and her brother were not allowed to read at the table except once a week, when their mom would take them out for dinner and they all brought a library book and got to read the whole time they ate! She loved it.