Boys, across the globe, regardless of their ethnicity or socio-economic status, are consistently underperforming in reading tests compared to their female counterparts. OnBuy.com, a British marketplace for books and other products, have explored the worrying reality about a boy’s relationship with books and how we could be getting them to read more.
1. Get fathers more involved in reading
Studies reveal that 39% of fathers ‘never or very rarely’ read to their children. Schools in the UK have found that fathers and older brothers who reserve time for reading with struggling 8 and 9-year-old boy readers helped them enjoy reading a lot more.
2. Introduce more non-fiction to bedtime
Introduce more non-fiction to bedtime. Research suggests that boys can have a hard time relating to fictional stories (unlike their female counterparts), and that they often enjoy reading non-fiction a lot more
3. Discuss the book as you go along
Talk about the characters, plot and vocabulary as you read. A national survey conducted by the Young Adult Library Services Association revealed that almost 5% of boys quit reading as they feel they ‘aren’t good at it’. Boys are often discouraged when it comes to reading if they struggle to understand the text; help them get the most out of the book by explaining it as you go along.
4. Lock away the iPad
According to a survey by OnBuy.com, 29% of parents with both sons and daughters admitted to reading more often to their daughters, with the main reason for this being because boys were more interested in playing with their iPads or games consoles. Making an effort to read to boys and putting away iPads helps to encourage reading before bed.
5. Don’t stop encouraging reading in teen years
Although girls have shown to take it upon themselves to read during their teenage years, do not assume that boys will follow suit. Many boys give up reading in their teenage years for other preferable activities like playing video games. In fact, research reveals we are a lot less likely to search for books for boys than girls, especially for teenagers. The term ‘books for teen girls’ is searched on average 6,900 times a month, compared to a mere 2,900 times a month for the query ‘books for teen boys’. This represents a 58% increase in searches.
6. Make it into a routine
Research reveals that 67% of parents with only daughters read to them more than 4 times a week, whereas only half as many read this often with their sons. Parents should ensure that they get into a regular routine of reading to their sons. This structure helps children understand what to expect (and look forward to) at bedtime.
7. Be patient
Boys often find it harder to grasp reading, and are trailing behind at school in this area compared to females of the same age. Be patient with them and let boys know that it is ok to take your time to understand a text without making them feel foolish about any misunderstandings.
8. Find books boys can relate to
Unfortunately, boys tend to resist reading stories about girls, whereas research reveals that girls will read a book with a male protagonist. Finding a book that your son can relate to will help his enjoyment of reading, and will encourage him to do more of it. Finding books about his hobbies, local area or about boys his age will help him read more often.
9. Get active
Having boys act out the book or draw the main characters can not only help them understand the story on a deeper level, but it helps make fun activities out of reading that may appeal to them more than the reading itself.
10. Make reading into a sport
Make reading competitive! This encourages boys to finish the books they have started, and to enjoy the process. Create book logs with reading milestones to accomplish, even offer rewards for reaching these goals within a certain timeframe!