Teaching children to read and helping them develop a love of reading and literature is vital to their early education and emotional development. Unfortunately, statistics show that boys are far behind girls in early literacy skills. There is a strong need to encourage boys to read more, and one of the best way to do this is for them to see their fathers or other male role models as readers. Here are some thoughts on why encouraging your son to read is so important, and how you can take steps to accomplish a love of literature in your boy.
Why Boys Lag Behind
Research over the past fifteen years or so sheds some insight on why boys lag behind girls in reading and early literacy skills. A study from 2002 indicates that boys read less than girls, more slowly and with less comprehension than their female counterparts. In addition, boys tend to place less value on reading than do girls.
By the age of 14 years old, nearly 40 percent of boys cite reading as no fun, while almost 30 percent cite having no time to read. Where reading is a cerebral activity, the approach often taken towards learning with boys is more physical and action-oriented. With little competition or physical activity involved, boys tend less towards mental-focused activities like reading. This is especially true since reading is divergent from sports and the like, and boys tend to be more afraid of being made fun of than girls for being different.
What Boys Like
One thing to be aware of is that boys tend to gravitate towards non-fiction texts, including magazines, newspapers and informational texts on sports, hobbies or their interests. They are also drawn more towards graphic novels, comic books and the like, and focus heavily on stories with boys as protagonists. Finally, boys tend to gravitate towards humor or genres such as action, sci-fi and fantasy. In fiction, they need to be able to directly identify with characters.
Encouraging Your Son to Read
The issue of boys not reading is a serious problem, and one that has to be addressed at every level. Teachers, librarians, communities and especially parents need to be involved. Girls tend to talk earlier and more than boys as a rule, which makes them more prone to develop advanced language skills.
Role models need to reassure boys that even sports magazines, graphic novels and nonfiction texts count as reading. These activities should be encourages as they can lead to broader reading down the road. In addition, the more adult male role models boys see reading, the more likely they are to follow suit.
Other steps that can be taken in schools and libraries include:
- Boy-oriented reading programs
- Book talks involving nonfiction works
- Encouraging reading in sports programs
- Buying books requested by boys
- Placing books within reach where they will be seen
If you are looking for a great way to encourage your son to read from an early age, start with an exciting interactive eBook like A-to-Z Animals. Then explore our website for some other exciting early literacy tools!