Do your boys struggle with reading? If so, you are not alone. It’s a fact that boys don’t read as much as girls. This reading gender gap is affecting boys’ performance in high school and beyond. So how can we encourage boys to read?
How to Encourage Boys to Read
Here are some quick facts about boys and that show why getting them to read is so important. According to a 2010 report by the Center on Education Policy:
- Boys are falling behind girls in reading in every state and in every grade.
- Boys are more likely than girls to be placed in special education.
- Boys are more likely than girls to drop out of high school.
- Boys are less likely than girls to go to a university.
All of these things are tied to reading ability and as a mom of 4 boys, this is pretty scary! But there are some things we can do to encourage our boys to read.
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How to Encourage Boys to Read
1. Read Together
I started reading to my sons shortly after they were born. Even now we spend time reading together and I take that time to discuss what is happening in the stories we read. My boys are always excited to get one-on-one time with mom and reading with someone else helps them to pay attention to the book. When you start young, they grow up with a love of reading.
2. Slow Down
One of my boys has one speed: FAST. It is hard to get him to sit down to read and then it is hard to keep him focused on what he is reading. It was while reading with my son that I realized he wasn’t comprehending very much of what read. He was reading for speed and just wanted to get finished with chapters. I set time limits, instead of page requirements for him to read. That way, he isn’t in a hurry just to finish a chapter so he can do something else. His reading skills have improved exponentially over the past year.
3. Make It Fun – No Pressure
I remember trying to force my oldest son to learn to read. I even checked out reading programs from the library and would make him sit while I tried to teach him. He hated it. I hated it. We were both unhappy. Once I took the pressure off, he learned to read easily. We loved reading the I See Sam Phonics Books. These were recommended by our first preschool teacher and I orderd the entire set. All of my boys have learned to read with these fun books and their silly characters. My boys never felt like they are being pressured. They actually loved seeing what shenanigans the characters would be a part of next.
4. Go to the Library
I started taking my boys to the library story time when they were toddlers. They had fun listening to stories and looking for new books. Now, they get excited to go to the library to choose out something new. My older boys even ask the librarians for suggestions of books they might like. Our library has a free summer reading program where kids earn prizes for reading, weekly story times geared towards different age groups and a book club for older kids.
5. Give Books as Gifts
My grandma gave us a book for every birthday and every Christmas. It was those books that I enjoyed the most and anticipated. In order for boys to enjoy reading, books need to be readily available and they need to be exposed to a variety of different books.
6. Choose Reading Material that They Enjoy
I have always had the belief that as long as my boys are reading, then I don’t care what they read (as long as the material is age appropriate). One of my boys went through a comic book phase. But he would sit and read comic books for hours. I was happy that he was reading. Find something that they are interested in and make it available to them.
7. Be Involved in School Events that Encourage Reading
Our school has reading week once a year where students are encouraged to read as much as they can and take Accelerated Reading tests for comprehension. There are a lot of rewards and parties for their hard work and I know they can use parent involvement to help them out. I try to take my boys in early during the week so they can take A.R. tests before school.
8. Be in Contact With Your Child’s Teacher
If your child is struggling with reading or not wanting to read, his/her teacher is your best resource. Go to them with your concerns and they should be able to help you to work out a plan to help your child.
9. Set Reading Goals
If your child is hesitant to read, set some reading goals with them. I love that our school participates in the Accelerated Reading program. Children are encouraged to read and reach different A.R. goals where they are recognized by the school. Last year, my 3rd grader met his goal of getting 250 AR points and had his name put on a plaque in the school. That was a goal he has had for a couple of years and he was excited to meet it. But even at home, a simple reward for finishing a book or reading so many hours, can really encourage boys to read.
I love this quote and really believe it:
Books Your Boys Will Love
I asked my Moms of Boys Community for recommendations of the books their boys love to read and their suggestions are below.
Books Boys Love to Read
- The Magic Treehouse Series
- Fly Guy
- Henry and Mudge
- Shel Silverstein Books
- Sideways Stories from Wayside School
- Origami Yoda Files
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid
- The Boxcar Children
- Henry and Ribsy (Henry Huggins)
- Galaxy Zack
- Captain Underpants
And for older boys:
- Harry Potter
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians
- Heroes of Olympus
- Ranger’s Apprentice Series
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The 39 Clues Series
Hopefully by encouraging boys to read, we can start to see a shift in the reading gender gap and boys’ reading abilities will begin improve.
What tips do you have to encourage boys to read?
What is your son’s favorite book to read?
This post is a part of our series 31 Days of Tips for Raising Boys. Each day throughout the series we are discussing a different topic regarding raising boys. I’d love for you to follow along and share this series with other parents of boys who may need some support or just to hear that they aren’t alone in their journey of raising boys.
I couldn’t agree with these tips more! I love that you focus on instilling a joy of reading in our boys without pressure or forced reading. I would add in that nonfiction books are often super motivating for boys! One of my first recommendations to families with hesitant boy readers is to get a stack of nonfiction books at the library on a topic their son is interested in. I’m looking at a stack of my son’s 20 reptile books on my coffee table as I type this, in fact. 😉
Yes! We have gone through the reptile phase here as well. 🙂 Now that son has moved on to Greek Mythology. I love watching their interests change over time. Non-fiction books are great and open up so many conversations because they have so many questions as they learn new things. Thanks for sharing!
Roslyn Stricker says
I have just bought my son 2 joke books and he’s actually reading out loud! I’m so happy.
That is wonderful! It is so nice when you find something that they enjoy reading and then they actually WANT to read. One of my boys will pretty much only read National Geographic fact books, but he is learning and his reading is improving.