Let me start with a few quotes from “fourcircleslearning.com”
- According to the national center for Education Statistic, teen females have outperformed teen males on reading assessments at a relatively constant rate from 1971 to 2008. By middle school they (boys) are nearly 1 & ½ years behind girsl.
- Boys of all ages generally read less than girls.
- Middle school aged boys believe reading is much harder than it was in elementary school.
- Boys claim reading becomes less enjoyable as they become older. (Perhaps because we make them read and interpret genres they cannot connect to?)
Why am I bringing this up? Because as a male, I am alarmed by the fact that one of the most important skills there is, reading, is not being mastered by upcoming generations of boys. Most of my work, not writing novels but information technology, is so text driven that if I didn’t read well, I couldn’t do my job. Even more important, as a customer service representative I am called upon to interpret written instructions for my customers. (Yes, I know, sigh, you’d think grown adults could read the directions themselves and follow them, but they can’t).
Are there strategies we can use to help our boys? YES!
- Give boys texts they like to read (I also highly recommend audio books as well). Duh! This doesn’t happen in our middle schools and high schools as much as it needs to.
- Allow boys to actively respond to texts. Boys don’t like to sit around and discuss literature (I did growing up, but I guess I’m a mutant). According to fourcircleslearning.com , “Research shows they want to actively and physically engage with a text.” What does that mean? Provide students the chance to act out portions of a story.
- True story, I once took a Sunday School class and created a scene from Beowulf. It’s amazing what you can do with a lot of cardboard, construction paper, and glue (don’t forget to add copious amounts of imagination). It was a hit.
- Know your boys and appeal to their individual interests and preferences. It’s hard to read something that doesn’t have much application to your life, (especially when there are other things that actually do but you’re not allowed to do them right now). I’m not going to get on teachers about this, as much as I want to get on parents. Parents, help your boys read. If you don’t like to read, get them involved in summer reading programs and things like that.
- Boys need role models. Okay Dad, here’s your chance to step up to the plate. Read to your kid. Let them see you read. No Dad? There are uncles, grandfathers, cousins, teachers, and coaches of all kinds.