Okay, so you’ve read my last post. You’re convinced that Boys and Reading is a significant problem. What can you do? Here’s some ideas:
Make Some Noise For the Boys!
You’re doing it right now. Learn everything you can about male literacy. Spread the word about boys and reading. Change the reading educational expectations. Make sure your child’s teachers know about boys and reading. SPREAD THE GUYS READ WORD.
Give Boys A Choice[pullquote type=”2″ align=”right”]“Men, we need you in our schools, in our libraries, in our homes, reading to our sons.”[/pullquote]An adult walks into a library and says “I want the latest David Baldacci” or “Can you recommend something like Mary Higgins Clark?” A child walks into the library and says “I don’t know what I want.” We, as librarians, roll up our metaphorical shirt sleeves and get to work. For every boy that asks for a book recommendation, we come up with at least 10 titles to recommend. We chuck everything we can think of at the kid, and then see what sticks. The kid can veto the book for whatever reason (“That cover is purple, and I don’t like the color purple”. “That book is about chickens and I don’t like chickens”. Or just “No, I don’t want it”.) If they aren’t convinced it’s the book for them, they won’t read it. Or if they do read it, it will be begrudgingly. One of the saddest things I see is a child being forced to read a book they don’t want. Not a good way to start a lifelong love of reading! Our mission is to find the right book for the right child at the right time. That will be the book that unlocks the gateway to lifelong reading.
Male Reading Role Models
Can I say it again, WE NEED MEN READING TO BOYS!!! Men, we need you in our schools, in our libraries, in our homes, reading to our sons. We need men who will show our boys that reading is fun and something they should want to do. We need mean who will patiently sit and help our boys learn to read. We need men who will discuss books with boys and teach them it is okay to talk about literature.
OUR BOYS NEED YOU.
Positive Peer Pressure
What do Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games all have in common? They all became literary phenomenons thanks to positive peer pressure among kids. “Have you read that new Harry Potter book yet? No??? Why not???” Wait, what? Your friends are telling you reading is cool? That’s motivation to read!
“Boys don’t believe ‘Reading is wonderful.’ Reading is often difficult and boring for them. Let’s start with ‘Here is one book/magazine/text you might like”. – Jon Scieszka
Reading is like working out. You can’t start by picking up a 200lb weight. If you try picking up a 200lb weight your first time and fail, of course you’re going to be discouraged. Plus, it might hurt. No way are you doing that again! However, if you start by picking up smaller 5lb or 10lb weights and doing reps, eventually you can work up to 15lb and beyond. Reading is a lot like that.
When it comes to Boys and Reading, the goal is endurance. It’s going to take lots of reps on the 5lb weights to move up to the 10lb. Be patient. Help your son to be patient. Boys are likely to get frustrated with their own inabilities to read. Help him work through that by not expecting too much too soon. And slowly, slowly, the tide will turn.
So you’re ready to load up your Library Card with books that your son will love, right? Check out our recommended reads for the reluctant boy at www.facebook.com/HPLKids.
Lexie Robinson Austin is one of the few born and raised Huntsville natives. She is a stepmom to one, a librarian to many, a reader of books, and baker of cookies. She likes ridiculously impractical shoes and the color pink.