Boys and reading(19 Posts)
I'm really curious to find out more about why young boys are often seen to be more reluctant readers than girls - I'm doing a research project on books for young boys/girls and am very keen to hear views from parents!
My research is inspired by the Let Books be Books campaign, so I'd love to know if you have/know a boy who is put off by 'girly' books or if you would feel that there is pressure from bookshops/publishers to buy a certain 'type' of book for your child. Or maybe you have a boy who loves to read - it would be great to hear from you!
I've made a blog to gather thoughts - please have a look or comment below! My blog is: labellingorlimiting.wordpress.com Thank you
I have 3 sons and a daughter and to be honest they all love reading and have from an early age. I have encouraged it without being too in your face about it. We have hundreds of books covering just about every subject you can think of. What I have noticed is that the boys tend to go for factual books and biographies where as my daughter is more keen on novels/stories.
My son loves books, particularly information books- dinosaurs/planets/animals rather than story books.
He likes having story's read to him but won't read them off his own bat.
I have 2 boys and one girl. My DC1 is an avid reader. My DC2 & 3 (g/b) are not. Both think sitting still is a waste of time and but as younger siblings there is always something going on in the house and they have all each other to bounce off.
I do really really wish there were more books which didn't set out to appeal to each gender though and focused on the story itself rather than trying to build a story about, for example, fairies or dinosaurs in the belief that the generic 'gender' appeal is more important than the story. Boy or girl, they all lose interest without a good well written gripping story. Lost count of the books we've started and never finished.
We're actually doing some research on reading habits and questioned our pupils and found very little difference in the type of books enjoyed by boys and girls (the assumption being that boys would prefer non fiction/obviously male storylines).
Yes I'm not surprised. The books that most caught the attention of DS1 and DD at around 5-6 were exactly the same - Fantastic Mr Fox and The Magic Faraway Tree & Enchanted Forest. Both are so well written and imaginative.
I see a lot of non fiction in the choice of books boys choose in the school I work in.Zero "girly" books being read.
I have 11 year old year 6 boys myself who are extremely avid and able readers. G&T. They read very different stuff. One always goes for Percy Jackson,Hobbit, Fablehaven,Michelle Paver type of books alongside sciencey non fiction and would never pick an overtly girly book.
His twin reads anything and everything.Loves real life books eg Wonder but has had a Second World War historical phase during which he read Anne Frank's Diary,The Book Thief,Boy in the Striped Pyjamas etc and currently into youth stuff like John Green,Divergence etc. When he was reading Ruby Redfort he was teased re the covers being girly and now won't take in anything "girly" to school.John Green is deemed as cool.We are a big book reading/buying family so it doesn't stop him reading but I did think to myself at the time that if my swotty,square non football playing boys are influenced by covers others definitely will be too.
Neither would ever pick Jacqueline Wilson books.I have read all sorts featuring girls to both them and their sister too over the years- Pippi Longstocking,E Nesbit, Little House on the Prarie etc.Currently reading Girl Savage( I suspect because it features a girl's boarding school)one hates but the other loves.
Just like to add after reading your blog your list of book types 10 year old boys are reading are exactly what I see boys reading in class.
Re your book shop thing though there are plenty of books for boys out there and I have to say our Waterstones is fab at displaying them.That said as an avid buyer of books for kids myself I buy most on Amazon or The Book People alongside ordering from the library. Just bought loads for my boys to read over the summer and had no shortage of choice.Spent a fortune actually.
I agree with some of the comments already made.
I have a boy/girl/boy.
Boy 1 is a good reader but doesn't read for pleasure.
My girl is a good reader and enjoys reading.
Boy 2 can read but rarely reads for pleasure.
In the case of my sons I believe that they weren't ready for phonics/reading until much later than my daughter. They all started Reception unable to read. My sons finished reception sounding out very simple sentences where as my daughter was on simple chapter books. Their reading (and writing) really took off in y2 and I believe that if they'd started phonics in y2 they'd still be at the reading level that they are today.
I think that the fact that modern publishers come up with distinct boys and girls books are a problem. Many have cliched characters like boys who play football or girls who are pony mad which alienates those in between. There are a few exceptions like David Walliams whose books are loved by boys and girls alike. Children definitely judge books by their covers so I'd like to see publishers make them unisex.
My youngest go to a school where the reading scheme books are modern unlike my oldest who sometimes had books from the 60s!! The modern schemes included books based on popular characters (Lego, Shaun the Sheep) as well as a book that was written like a cartoon strip. He borrowed those more than once which showed how much he enjoyed them. He also enjoyed reading scheme books where a question is asked at the end of each couple of pages. I wonder how much my eldest' enjoyment of reading was hampered by the ancient reading scheme books.
My experience is totally different
My son a good reader always has a book on the go ...prolific reader 2 or 3 books a week
My daughter a good reader rarely reads for pleasure 2 or 3 books a year max.
I think there are plenty of all kind of books to be honest. Below are the boys I'll be buying or borrowing for my boys this summer.None feature football.Some are American and not great works of literature but I believe in a variety and summer being a time to enjoy reading.
Surrounded by Sharks
The Candy Shoo War
The Edge Chronicles
How Cool Stuff Works
Harriet the Spy
Capture the Flag
The Wednesday Wars
First Class Murder(girly)
The Westing Game
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour( girly)
We Were Liars(girly ?)
Secrets of the Tomb
Counting by 7s
I have one Ds (8) so have no other sibling to compare ..He has always loved reading. He would stop at the bustop on the way home to read his new school book. He reads for pleasure. He loved roald Dahl. but also has loved the magic faraway tree, he loved bewilderwood after a visit. He does enjoy fact books and guiness world records is a joy to him. He doesn't want to read a book about fairies and princesses but equally doesn't want to read about football.
Gone Away Lake
When Marnie Was There
Girl With a White Dog
The Ghost of Thomas Kempe
A Stutch in Time
The Glass Bird Girl
Mischief at Midnight
Summer of the Gypsy Moths
All Four Stars
Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow
Because of Winn- Dixie
Land of Stories 2&3
The One and Only Ivan
new Jacqueline Wilson
None are taxing or very long and there will be some perhaps not read.
DS(5) loves reading. He is equally at home reading Harry Potter or TinTin as he is reading an encyclopedia but he won't touch 'girly' books. Having said that neither will my daughters - one likes sci-fi and the other one non-fiction. One of them did go through a rainbow fairy stage but the other one has always refused them. Ds does own some 'boy books' - dinosaur quest because he asked for them but he hasn't shown much interest in them.
His interest in reading started very early and he is fortunate that he finds it easy. I think also having the older sisters helps as he has seen them try to learn to read and so he has seen it as something that children do. My oldest daughter initially found reading challenging and said that she wanted us to always read to her so she didn't have to. We did try to make her see that she might feel differently when she was 13 but she was adamant that there would be no need for her to learn to read as we would always do it for her. Ds has seen though that through practice a child can learn to read and so that is what he has done.
DS (9) is a very keen reader and always has been, and reads almost entirely fiction – he rarely picks up a non-fiction book apart from Horrible Histories and a few other history books. He has no problem with books featuring girls as the main characters – over the years he has loved the Sophie books, Pippi Longstocking, the Roman Mysteries series. He has never shown any interest in football books or those marketed specifically at boys.
I work in a literary sector and I think that there is a bit of a gap in market for stories that appeal to boys in the area between picture books and older children's books like Harry Potter and meaty adventure books like Artemis Fowl. My DS1 is a very bright boy and struggles with reading. He loves facts and information. He has read a couple of football books but just reads non-fiction now. He just doesn't like the books. My DS2 is an avid reader and has moved from picture books to a few chapter books like the Robo-runners by Damian Harvey. He loved this series but everything else has fallen flat. Series like Beast Quest (and Rainbow Fairies for girls) are in my opinion damaging the children's reading in the long term. They are badly written series which don't vary the story or the language. If they don't finish the series (100+) some - obv not all children - feel like they have failed and they lose interest and think that all books or series are the same story repeated. I think it has the opposite effect to the desired one. Not that I think the publishers care about reading. They care about the profits that can be made out of books sold in series and packs.
But I think the younger emerging readers are struggling with good solid stories particularly boys but even more gender neutral stories that just engage the children's imagination. If you can keep them going until larger chapter books the stories and content get a bit meatier and the boys in particular get hooked back in to the storylines.
I disagree re Rainbow Fairies,Beast Quest and all the other very similar formulaic books in this bracket which get far less bad press.They bridge and often get kids hooked into reading.The repetition can also be useful. The key is to ensure they don't stay on them for too long.
All 3 of mine read the above and all are very able, prolific readers. The 2 boys sat the level 6 reading paper this year.
Beast Quest got my reluctant reader at the time reading and in to those quest type of books he loves to read now.
I think there is plenty out there between picture and chapter books.Our book shelves are groaning with them.If you go into Waterstones their tables have a massive variety laid out.My DC could happily pick up a huge pile,I often see other boys in there nagging for books too.Sadly I rarely buy from Waterstones when they ask as they're too expensive.We'll wait for offers or jot down titles to order from the library.
My 7 year old twin boy nephews are similar to my boys eg very prolific and able readers too and have had got through loads in between picture books and the chapter books like David Walliams they are reading now.When I have more time I'll list some of those in betweeny books mine read between picture and Harry Potter.
Personally I think the issue is getting boys off screen and actually reading.Many boys would far rather spend money on computer games or football kit than a pile of books and books are expensive. All of the prolific reader boys I know have strict screen time limits so when they're in bed at say 7.30 they have nothing else to do but read.
Would just like to add that there is nothing wrong with non fiction,newspapers and comics. Mine read loads of the full range.They still love The Phoenix, The Beano and First News. They're still reading.
DS is 7 and is an avid reader but only at bedtime and on holidays. It took a while but the key was finding chapter books that 'hooked him in' to really get him reading.
Examples of books that he has really go into...
Horrid Henry (love them or hate them, they were one of the first series that he kept on reading and still goes back to (almost 'comfort reading'!)
Frankie and the Magic Football - again, probably won't win any literary awards but kept him reading.
Daisy and the trouble with...
Tom Palmer writes some great football/rugby books. The football academy series was a great stepping stone to the Foul Play books
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