When it comes to reading (and writing), research still shows that males tend to lag behind females. And yet, according to Jon Scieszka, research also shows that boys will read enthusiastically–if given the opportunity to read something that interests them.
To entice reluctant readers, teachers may need to broaden their definition of what counts as “text” and offer different options. This may include shorter, more accessible texts that appeal to boys like magazines, collector or trading cards, joke books, comics and cartoons, movie scripts, online texts/websites, and graphic novels.
Boy-friendly reading displays
Set up your classroom to entice the “grazers” versus the “diners.” “Diners” enjoy longer texts and can maintain focus. The “grazers” in your classroom like to sample and taste shorter texts and crave frequent change. Display reading options in your classroom library to appeal to the “grazers.” Boys are attracted to visual displays that focus on current trends. Know HOT topics and make sure to change your book displays often.
To engage the boys who don’t choose to read, enlist the endorsement of the boys who do like it. According to a 2003 MORI poll, “students are four times more likely to read something recommended to them by a peer than by a teacher.” Provide time for book promoters to offer a one-minute oral book recommendation. Try a Boys Only lunchtime in the library or start a Boys’ Book Club.
Another way to use role models to endorse reading is to intentionally pair older boys with younger ones for read-aloud time. Or invite some male role models from the community to come read to your students. Boys need to see that reading is cool.
Here are some great boy-friendly books. Check out this list of recommended reading options.