My sons’ literary appetites are omnivorous, encompassing both books of poop jokes, and a particularly inane “Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew” volume called “The Fashion Disaster.” They like books about dinosaurs and books about Tinkerbell, books about mutant mosquitoes from outer space, and books about Fancy Nancy going to the art museum. But it seems that boys generally aren’t doing so well in terms of reading. Last year, the Center on Education Policy released a report outlining the increasing gap between girls and boys when it comes to reading ability. And it’s a gap boys can’t seem to close as they get older, leaving them at a disadvantage all the way into adulthood. What the math crisis was for middle school girls, it appears reading may be for boys.
So, how did we get our boys to like reading to the point of obsession?
1) We read anything they like.
Be it fart-related humor, or poorly written pamphlets about local amusement parks, we read it. Some researchers have suggested that adults tend to deem certain kinds of books worthwhile (e.g. Little House on the Prairie) and others worthless (e.g. comics about a flying turd). Guess which gender tends to gravitate to the latter?
2) I read aloud with extreme enthusiasm, varying accents, and a lot of theatrics. While embarrassing, this really works.
3) We keep track of the books we read, and my kids post reviews of them on goodreads. Malcolm gets inordinately excited about posting his reviews, though they are generally all a variant of “I liked when the guy hit the thing with the thing.”
4) We are very cozy with Miss Tracy, our SPECTACULAR town librarian, and her crackerjack assistants and volunteers, Miss Kathy, Miss Diane, Miss Gerry, Miss Bethany…and so forth. My kids believe the library is another room in our house that we have to drive to.
March is apparently reading month, so I implore you to set your kid up with a goodreads account (and be our friend so we can read your reviews too), check out some gross comics about excretion and get started.
If you have no idea where to begin, I recommend the site http://www.guysread.com which includes recommended reading broken down into sections like “Outer space, but without aliens” and “Monkeys and/or apes.” Or get in touch with us; Malcolm won’t steer you wrong.