The holidays—and winter break—are approaching!  The term has undoubtedly been hectic and action-packed … and everyone is looking forward to the break.  But to build up any weaknesses in the literacy of our students, and to raise their confidence as well, they will need to read over the break.  Let’s look at 6 Strategies to Connect Boys with Books.

1.  Read for fun, read forever

A large contributor to why boys fail at reading is that they perceive reading as work.  Many educators and parents see the ‘tipping point’ in boys’ reading around the age of Year 4 when he must become an independent reader.  Reading is challenging enough, but when a boy sees the girls succeeding where he fails, he usually makes one of two statements: either “I can’t read” or “I don’t read“.  Clearly, the latter option is easier.  Research shows that half of the boys entering high school identify themselves as non-readers.  This is why we need a commitment to literacy.

Here is a great message for educators and parents: Children do not read to their reading level.  Children read to their interest level.

In a past article, I outlined the immense value of your school librarian – they are uniquely qualified to match boys with appropriate books and authors.  Plus they can help to boost your son’s literacy! Before the term ends, get in touch with your librarian (or class teacher) about suitable books to borrow over the holidays. 

2.  Book-ify a movie night

Devote some family chill time to celebrating your child’s favorite reads. From classics to comics, there’s no shortage of films adapted from kids’ books to help take movie night—and to promote reading—to the next level. 

3.  Downtime to read

 “My son does a lot of sport so he doesn’t have time to read.”
“Our family is just so busy that we can’t fit reading into our day.”
Sport and busyness are often the culprits for a lack of reading.  Juggling schoolwork, sport, family duties and friendships often mean that reading is dismissed.

Why we need to have books for children.

Reading does take time.  The child who likes reading will find the time to read.  Similarly, the child who has never given books much of a go, loses the chance to read in the rush.  So make time for your son to read each day.  The holidays free up some of those commitments.

3.  The influence of tech, gaming and computers

Boys are drawn to computers and gaming. And some screentime is ok.  There are actually clear parallels between books and gaming: both involve storytelling to a greater or lesser extent, they usually feature a hero or heroine, they face a challenge, make enemies and attempt to acquire new skills. So I found this terrific website that lists some brilliant books: 60 Book Ideas for Kids’ Who’d Rather be Gaming

There are some great books in this list that will appeal to all ages, so check it out!

4.  The appeal of a book series

Boys’ readings are often short, because they tend to read below their year level plus shorter books seem less of a chore.  Many boys are drawn to series books – the benefit here is there is less of a struggle with new content.  The hardest 10 pages of any book are the first ten: when the reader has to become familiar to the author’s style, setting, characters and a myriad of other factors.
With a series, a boy must only go through that process once and can enjoy the rest of the series.  Here is a link to some recommended book series   (My son’s were huge fans of Ranger’s Apprentice and Percy Jackson books.)

5.  Sports, action, adventure

Boys are active beings, and they seek to connect their reading to what they like.  If you’ve been following my posts for awhile, you will know that I recommend magazines for boys.  There are publications that match every interest: animals, 4WD, fishing, footy, sport, gaming.  Try not to dismiss magazines – they add a different element to the reading diet.

6.  Role modelling

The tricky thing here is that reading is largely a solitary activity.  But consider this: everybody wants to see examples of someone who looks like them, and boys need support they learn the mechanics of reading.  Reading is one of the most difficult skills that we learn in our lives and we are expected to master it by the time we are eight years old.  For boys, that is a double challenge because their brains are less developed than girls’ brains.  Schools and libraries need to find ways to bring males in and to connect reading with activities that men and boys like.  Dads, stepdads, uncles, grandpas, male figures: men need to be guides to learning and to teach boys that reading is a means toward any end they desire.

In conclusion

Reading is everyone’s job.  Ultimately the job of turning boys into readers is too large to be accomplished by schools and librarians alone.  It takes a culture that immerses boys in literacy. Being a boys’ reading advocate, I hope that some of the above tips can be useful for educators and parents alike.

Looking for a program to engage and further improve your learners’ literacy levels?

Literacy for Boys and Literacy for Kids have been adopted in over 50 schools around Australia, NZ, and the Asia Pacific.  Contact us for a FREE trial in your school.  See for yourself how our engaging programs are boosting literacy levels in the next generation!

Check out our blogs for more ideas and tips.

Super skills of Reading: How to help your child become a better reader

Steps to Successfully Support Disengaged Learners

See us featured in The Educator Australia magazine

Research confirms that early reading boosts literacy

Boys Love LFB – Here’s what they have to say!

Help! My son hates reading.

Get boys reading in the digital age

Why write? Tips for reluctant writers

Best Boy’s Books from 2017

Brought to you by Tanya Grambower

Literacy For Boys Reading in Action