Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Do I Get My Boy to Read!?

If I had a quarter for every time I've been asked this question over my 30 years of teaching I could have retired with only 20 years of teaching!  My most common response has been, "If I knew that, I'd be on the speaking tour right now making more money than I do teaching!" 

There have been countless professional books and blogs written to this topic and we still don't have the answer.  In fact, my own son has never been a reader despite all of the efforts I've made over the years.  One of the most common things I hear from people smarter than me, is that boys don't relate to the characters in books.  Most books seem to be written for girls.  I don't disagree with this sentiment, but there are a number of authors who have a boy bent and seem to be trying to write for that audience.

Recently, one of my parent volunteers told me that she is having a hard time finding books for her son.  Most of the books she has found or that have been recommended to her have boys that either are athletes or who always get into trouble.  Her son doesn't fit either of these profiles so I pulled some books for her 3rd grade son that have main characters that aren't particularly athletic and don't get into big trouble.  She was looking for boys who like to play outside and build things and take pleasure from just being a boy. 

I thought I'd share the titles here and maybe the Literate Lives readers will have some other suggestions.

Justin Fisher Declares War by James Preller
Along Came Spider by James Preller
The Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look
Justin Case series by Rachel Vail
The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O' Connor
The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor

These were the ones I pulled from our shelves quickly, but I know I can come up with more if I really think about it.  If you have some to add, let me know, I know a parent who will be very happy!

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for the recommendation of my books, Bill!

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  2. I have two boys, one of whom is a 13 year old picky reader...I've found that I cannot make any assumptions about what he will like, and that the only way to get him to read is to simply scatter books around the house for him to discover on his own. I would never, for instance, have thought to actively offer him Rose, by Holly Webb, but I was reading it myself, and he picked it up, loved it, and is now on the third book of the series.

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  3. Some that I have used successfully- STINK (he gets in a little trouble, but not too bad), TIME WARP trio, ZACK FILES, HANK THE COWDOG, anything published by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, nonfiction by Steve Jenkins or Nic Bishop (not novels but great books), graphic novels like the LUNCH LADY. I might also check the CYBILS nonfiction list- lots of great stuff on there!

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  4. In my opinion, saying that boys don’t like to read is a bit insulting to boys. What seems to me to be the problem is that parents often buy into the argument that boys don’t like to read and therefore don’t require the boys to read. I agree that many books are targeted at girls, but I can think of a ton of books that are more relatable to boys. In my career, I have found that boys of all ages enjoy reading nonfiction books. There are so many great nonfiction books out there that cover just about any interest. I have also found that many boys like to read biographies of famous people and nonfiction or realistic fiction accounts of wars. Also, the Magic Tree House books have always been popular in my classroom. If you are looking for classics, why not try Treasure Island or Swiss Family Robinson? Both of these classic adventure tales would appeal to many rough and tumble boys. Don’t forget about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer! These characters are scrappy and tough and catch the reader’s attention. When boys are introduced to these characters and books in a way that makes them seem exciting, boys are more likely to want to read. Holding boys accountable for reading will give them the idea that reading is important and is necessary.

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  5. I do not have any children of my own, but I have worked with children around that same age range and I experienced similar things. The boys that I worked with generally show no interest in reading. This does occur more often than with the girls. It is quite possible that reading is not enjoyable for them because they do not find the book to be exciting or because they cannot relate to the text. So book choice is s huge part of this problem. When a child is having difficulties choosing a text that is enjoyable, help guide them to various options. When I am around children I talk about books all the time. When they hear the joy in my voice and the persons who are a part of the conversation, they in turn become interested. That interest leads to them asking further questions. Eventually, the child will be picking up the book himself and reading it. As the adults we must encourage and promote literacy. Make it fun and attractive to children. Identify the child needs and model to them various strategies for correcting them. When reading a text, demonstrate the different voices and inflections that can be used when reading.

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  6. I do not have any children of my own, but I have worked with children around that same age range and I experienced similar things. The boys that I worked with generally show no interest in reading. This does occur more often than with the girls. It is quite possible that reading is not enjoyable for them because they do not find the book to be exciting or because they cannot relate to the text. So book choice is s huge part of this problem. When a child is having difficulties choosing a text that is enjoyable, help guide them to various options. When I am around children I talk about books all the time. When they hear the joy in my voice and the persons who are a part of the conversation, they in turn become interested. That interest leads to them asking further questions. Eventually, the child will be picking up the book himself and reading it. As the adults we must encourage and promote literacy. Make it fun and attractive to children. Identify the child needs and model to them various strategies for correcting them. When reading a text, demonstrate the different voices and inflections that can be used when reading.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bill, I do agree, at times it is hard to get boys to read. As a Media Specialist, I see this happening daily with certain students; especially the boys. Many of the girls would race in grab a book they like, check it out and head back to class. However, a number of the boys would wander around the school library looking for a book. I have noticed if a certain book is not available, some of the boys would rather not check out a book and leave the library empty handed. The majority of the boys at our school would prefer to check out the following types of books: sports, automobiles, humor, graphic novels and action. I realize if these types of books are available, then the boys will check them out to read. Is not the fact that boys don’t like to read, boys do like to read. We have to provide boys with reading materials and books they find interesting to read. As a Media Specialist, I would like to share the following popular titles that a number of boys at our school enjoying reading:
    The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
    Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
    Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
    Series of the 39 Clues by Various Authors
    Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell
    I was very surprised to see a number of boys check out this series, because I assumed this series would only be popular with the girls. Lately, a number of boys have taken an interest in the series of Dork Diaries and enjoy checking it out.
    Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
    Graphic Novel Series: Bone by Jeff Smith
    Graphic Novel: The Hobbit
    Graphic Novel: A Wrinkle in Time
    Nonfiction books: Sports, Pets and Automobiles [all types].

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