Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday's Musings

Do you know of any young boys who do not like to read? Why do you think boys so often don't? What can we do to encourage them to read more?

My kids (and the few children in our peer group) are technically too young to be concerned about this issue--the oldest is a girl who will be 5 in May--so I don't have any current personal knowledge of reluctant readers. My son (who just turned 3) is well on his way to making the letter-sound-word connection. I can only answer this from 2 perspectives: evolutionary and former teacher/librarian.

For starters, reading is not a natural activity. Written language is a comparatively new construct when one takes a long view of human development. Knowing this, I can readily see how individuals (regardless of gender) might not be able to achieve the fluency necessary to enjoy the process itself, or appreciate the information available through books. In my opinion, many of the same kids who "do not enjoy reading" seem to do just fine when the same material is presented via the internet. Said opinion is prejudiced by my observation of DH, and confirmed by commenters all over the web., so YMMV.

For those personality types for whom "action" is the preferred mode of being, reading is mostly likely too passive to be considered a legitimate activity. For those whose nervous systems aren't wired for prolonged periods of concentration, reading can be painful and torturous. And, for those who believe they don't need what books have to offer (true for both fiction and nonfiction), reading is a waste of their time.

Since there are various sorts of reluctant readers (those by choice and those not), there is no one solution. In general, though, I'd find reading material geared to their interests, I'd encourage them to advance their gross-motor skills through reading, and I'd find good role models (people they already respect, or ones they would be likely to) who could be a direct or indirect influence. For ann older (10+) child, I'd start having conversations about livelihood, whether that would necessitate a college degree, and talk about the literacy needs of a functional citizen (filling out job applications, reading operating manuals, understanding what issues one votes on, etc.). [ok, maybe that last one is asking a bit much... *wink*]

1 comment:

max said...

I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that girls and boys hate to put down. My web site is at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com and my Books for Boys blog is at http://booksandboys.blogspot.com I also have a short story in a new book called LAY UPS and LONG SHOTS, published by Darby Creek Publishing. I'm also featured in an article in the 2009 edition of Children's Writer Guide.

My other books are all ranked by Accelerated Reader

Max Elliot Anderson