Thursday, October 2, 2008

Boys Need to Read, Too

Many boys do not read, not always because they can't, but because they are not interested. Some do have reading problems, which can be addressed once recognized, but too many boys and young men just don't find reading interesting or "the thing" to do.

After teaching for 27 years, I dealt with male students who would rather take a zero than have to read a book. We need literate men in our society, and the only way to procure them is to develop boys and teens who read, develop brain cells. How can we as authors, teachers, parents, caring people help alleviate the problem?

1. Write or find books that interest boys, such as sports, adventure, with lots of action. In my English classes, I didn't assign just one book for the class, or even one genre. I offered a list, including action, adventure, sports, science fiction.

2. Books need to have something besides page after page after page of words. Illustrations help break the pattern. Illustrations, again, need to match what boys will enjoy.

3. Action, action, action. Maybe because most boys tend to be more active than girls, what they read requires action to gain their attention and to keep it.

4. Girls will read books and stories where the main character or characters are male. However, boys very seldom will read books with female main characters.

5. Most readers do not like long descriptions and narrative, but boys usually refuse to read any thing that "bores" them.

So, how can help with the problem, help add boys to the readers' list? If you write, be sure to add the components boys want and like. If you're a teacher, give more leeway in the classroom concerning books assigned. If you're a parent or grandparent, keep looking until you find books the boys in your life would like.

Two of the books from 4RV Publishing that boys enjoy:

The Base Stealers Club and Case of the Missing Coach


elysabeth said...

Good ideas. We do need to keep the interests of the boys as well as the girls. But most girls enjoy reading. It is a genetic make-up. One reason boys are more interested in things like magazines and the new wave of the future - graphic novels. Short reads that don't have to hold their attention too long help also. And with the graphic novels, they are reading novels but they are more in comic book form and tend to help them along. They need to be stimulated and get those brain cells going.

Another 4RV book that may be of interest to boys is State of Wilderness as it s a quick read and it uses illustrations to enhance the words. See you in the postings - E :)

Vivian Zabel said...

I was going to promote the other books from 4RV that boys would like in another post, but here are the other two books that have been released so far.

State of Wilderness by Elysabeth, illustrated by Aidana WillowRaven

Bubba & Giganto by Lea Schizas

Galand Nuchols said...

I think your comment about breaking the story up with pictures is very helpful to boys. I found that many students, boys more so than girls, are unable to visualize what they are reading. I blame television for a good deal of the problem. Watching movies, even good movies, allows the viewer to see someone else's idea of what the story is about. They don't have to use thier own imagination at all. The printed word requires the reader to form a mental picture of what is happening in the story. Many students can read the words but the comprehension is not there.
Just my thoughts.

Vivian Zabel said...

More boys than girls are also kinetic and/or verbal learners. So comprehension of what words show isn't there. You are so right about imagination not being there, Galand.

However, we can reach more boys, hopefully, by providing literature that they would want to read.

Rena said...

My eight-year-old is an excellent reader, but has only recently gotten interested in chapter books. I wasn't too worried before because he reads huge bird field guides. I'm talking the 1000-page ones from National Geographic or the Audubon Society. He reads the entire things. But recently he's discovered chapter books and I found what he really likes is humor. He just read "Captain Underpants" and loved it. He wants to read more of those. Last year we read "Flat Stanley" and he enjoyed that. Then in school I read aloud "How To Eat Fried Worms" and he enjoyed that. I think with boys the humor helps, along with the yucky stuff too. I'm planning on reading "Supernatural Rubber Chicken" to them next in school.

I took the boys to the library the other day. I figured Nathan would check out some books on birds and Neil would check out some books on cats. Nope. Nathan comes home with a book on the Valdez oil spill, a book on haunted houses and a book on ballistics. Of ALL things! These were all children's nonfiction books, but still. It kind of suprised me. Neil picked out 4 books on mummies and a book on a dog who's paralyzed and uses wheels to get around. I was pretty surprised by their choice, but that's the beauty of the library and having so many to choose from.