Engaging Boys in Reading
Have you ever noticed a significant gap in reading achievement between the girls and boys in your class?
If you have, you're not alone. Research by the Ontario Ministry of Education indicates that although educators do their best to ensure equal learning opportunities for both genders, boys seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to reading.
Here are some interesting facts about the gap between boys and girls:
- Gender is a significant factor in choice of reading material and reading achievement.
- Boys typically score lower than girls on standardized tests in language arts.
- Boys are more likely than girls to be placed in special education programs.
- Boys are less likely than girls to go to college.
- Boys are more likely than girls to drop out of high school.
Ready for some good news?
Researchers have pinpointed some of the factors that contribute to boys' lack of enthusiasm when it comes to reading.
Labeling certain kinds of literature as unsuitable for classroom reading (e.g., comic books, video game guides, etc.), not providing enough guidance on what to read, and not providing a wide selection of boy-friendly books can all discourage boys from reading.
In other words:
Althought it might be tempting to think that boys just don’t like to read, it’s more likely that they just don’t like to read what’s presented to them in the classroom.
So what can you do to get your boys excited about reading?
Here's a list of reading materials that boys, in general, are more likely to want to read:
- Books that reflect their image of themselves
- Books that make them laugh and appeal to their sense of mischief (e.g., Diary of a Wimpy Kid series)
- Fiction that focuses more on actions than on emotions
- Books in a series, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Time Warp Trio, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians
- Sports or other engaging nonfiction
- Comic books, baseball cards, and instruction manuals
Imagine Learning is developing new activities and stories geared toward boys. The stories center around old and new themes, like sports, stranger-than-fiction, and super heroes.
We’re creating new materials that boys will find more interesting and engaging.
We certainly don’t want to exclude girls, but if we keep subject, pacing, and accessibility in mind, then we can level the playing field and keep boys’ interest.