As a third grade teacher, the most common questions that come from parents are about boys and reading. Parents are concerned because their boys do not want to read, do not like to read, or don’t read the “right” books.
If you are having some of these questions, first of all encourage WILD reading behaviors at home!
Then, consider the following:
By and large boys have their own “brand” of literacy. All those strange names that your son can rattle off from Pokémon? The facts that he has filed away about college football teams? The detailed descriptions that you hear about Minecraft? Those are actually highly complex literacy skills.
Reading research tells us that boys often see the reading that is valued at school as being irrelevant to their interests. That’s where parents and teachers come in. We need to work together to allow boys to bring their own interests in to the classroom.
Boys want to model themselves after the males in their lives. Adult women are far more likely to read novels and participate in activities like book clubs than adult males. Men are far more likely to read from an electronic device, to read magazines or the newspaper, and to read while the television is on. Who does your son see read? How are they doing it? Who does he want to be like? If that is what or the way your son wants to read it, encourage it, he’s figuring out what kind of reader he wants to be.
Boys need to wiggle.
What happens if you are 8 and doing something that is hard for you?
You fall asleep or get frustrated and stop paying attention.
What do you do if you know you shouldn’t fall asleep or stop paying attention? You wiggle.
Brain research tells us that boys’ and girls’ brains develop at different “tempos.” Boys’ slowest area of development is language. This would explain why we see boys fidget, sit backwards in their chairs, lay on the floor, or prefer to stand up to do school work. Encourage acceptable ways to wiggle, and you are respecting your son’s need to keep his brain awake.
What’s been your experience with your boy readers? What helps the boys in your life be enthusiastic readers? What are their favorite books and authors and topics? I’d love to hear from you!