Sadly, getting boys to read has been a problem in the past, but now it is an epidemic in our country that we need to address. In our rapidly changing, dancing with the stars, fast food nation of American culture, boys are falling behind in school for one reason and one reason only. Getting Boys To Read is difficult.
The official GUYS READ website tells us that the United States Department of Education reading tests over the last 30 years shows us that boys are scoring lower than girls in every age group…every…single…year. The study also showed that eighth grade boys were 50% more likely to be held backthan 8th grade girls and that two-thirds of all special education students in high school were boys. Biologically, boys develop at a much slower rate than girls do and their learning styles tend to be action-oriented and competitive, but what does any of this have to do with the fact they don’t like to read?
Are the boys themselves at fault? Is it the writer’s fault for creating boring content? What about the publisher, the teacher or even the parent? Are they the ones to blame? It is easy to point the finger of blame, but the problem is here and finding someone to blame only keeps the problem going. Solutions are at hand and it is our job to find them.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had some magic bullet to solve this growing problem of getting boys to read? Maybe if we made the activity of reading more like eating warm, chocolate chip cookies or riding skateboards on a hot Saturday afternoon, reading might become popular with boys. What if reading could be like the adrenalin rush of playing the latest action-packed, first person shooter video game title? Surely then we would find more boys with their noses buried in the pages of a book, right?
Sadly, reading is nothing like warm chocolate chip cookies and how can a book compete with the sensory overload that happens to a boy when he’s playing a video game? So, where does that leave us? What do we do? How can we get boys to read? The following is a list of tips for writers, parents and teachers alike. Perhaps if we work together, we can stop the growing epidemic and get our boys to read.
WRITERS TIP: With evaporating attentions spans of our culture on a whole, try cliffhanging your reader every chance you get. Slow-burning novels die a slow burning deaths. Boys need action, pace and suspense. It is our job to give it to them. Study how Dan Brown executed the perfect novel of The Da Vinci Code. Cliff hang. Cliff hang. Cliff hang. The entire book was disguised as a giant puzzle, which organically engages the reader to ‘solve.’
PARENTS TIP: If you want your child to read, pick up a book and read to them. Start as early as possible, even if they don’t understand what you’re reading. The activity will become a fond memory for them. Studies show that children who are read to will have longer attention spans and greater concentration abilities than kids who aren’t. Turn off the TV and create FAMILY BOOK NIGHT one night of the week. One night, that’s all we ask.
TEACHER TIP: Short content is a great place to start with boys because their minds are running on short, action-filled video game sequences. Add some variety in your reading schedule by having your students read magazine articles out-loud. Current events will hold their interests and before they know what’s happening, they are practicing the art of reading. The stories can be based on fact, fiction or even gossip articles, but the important thing here is practice, practice, practice. If they get to choose the article, the exercise might provide some much needed humor and engage the class as a whole.