I understood why the little boy wanted to change books. I gave him a graphic novel on Robin Hood. But then I started thinking, who would want to read this book? No one I know. I think the boys are more easily distracted from reading when the subject isn't motivating. I think the girls are equally bored with the books but are driven more towards obedience than interest.
Arms-length, purpose-driven books engage boys:
Boys want arms-length, fast-paced fiction books or informational, visual non-fiction books. They don't want the good-for-you books that schools put upon them.
I believe that reading entails three key areas: motivation, fluency and comprehension. Comprehension means understanding the story and even reflecting on the story. Fluency is word familiarity, word-calling and word meanings. Motivation is the big one; it is what drives the reading process and gets them reading and gets them to continue reading.
I've used strategies such as having students find and read jokes and riddles aloud. It motivates them (because they can all laugh), it gets them beyond fluency to comprehension (you have to tell the joke properly for it to work and you have to understand it to tell it properly).
Boys do read:
While teachers try to resolve the "boys don't like to read" dilemma, I have always wondered if it isn't that boys don't like to read what teachers would like them to read. They tend to have no problem with emails or texts. They don't want to read about social problems or discuss a character's deep feelings.
This is a growing list of general quick tips for getting boys to read from: gettingboystoread.com
- Most boys prefer to read NON-FICTION.
- It's critical to RESPECT a boy's reading interests, even if we think it stinks.
- Most boys prefer things that are SHORT, like Tweets :-)
- Boys love MAGAZINES! They are chunk-able and informative.
- Boys like to DISCUSS things they read, but are often shy. Ask questions, engage them.
- Boys need ENCOURAGEMENT with reading. Remember to tell them "Good Job, Keep it Up"