Raising Boy Readers: Book Review

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I loved, loved, loved this book! It is aimed towards parents of boys who can read independently (specifically from grade 3 through high school). It’s a quick read, only 83 pages on the “Raising Boy Readers” topic and the rest of the book is an annotated booklist by age and interest. Although my son is not anywhere near reading independently, I was very fascinated with the information in this book. I hope to remember it in the future if he becomes a frustrated reader.

Here are some things I learned from the book. (Keep in mind that all of these are generalizations- some boys may be read more like girls and some girls may read more like boys.) First, boys have a genetic lag in brain development compared to girls. This means that girls usually learn read at a younger age than boys, and their “reading levels” are consistently higher than boys throughout elementary, middle school, and high school. Unfortunately girls development has sent the standard for reading, so boys are already at a disadvantage simply because they are biologically different. The author’s main point here is to understand that boys will struggle with reading simply because their brains haven’t developed yet. So don’t stress if your son isn’t at the correct “reading level.”

Secondly, boys read differently than girls. They prefer to read in spurts whereas girls are more accustomed to sit and read for long periods of time. Reading in spurts for boys actually helps them concentrate better on the book- they are able to give their brain time to process what they have read by doing something else. As a parent, this means that if you want your boy to be a reader, you need to accept that he will have to take breaks. Reading 30 minutes straight might not be possible, but 30 minutes total with breaks can be.

Thirdly, boys read for the plot, girls read for the relationships. Boys like to read “edgy” material because it makes them feel rebellious without actually having to act rebellious.The author emphasized the fact that boys may read a lot of things that parents or teachers don’t “count.” Boys are more likely to enjoy non-fiction, which many teachers don’t “count” as reading.  Other reading that doesn’t “count” includes video games (that have text pop ups to explain the plot), manuals, or conversations in chatrooms. All of this should count as reading!

Lastly, boys need to see others read. Many of the men they know read in private (usually in the bathroom). Teachers and parents stress the importance of reading but don’t model it as much as they should. If you want your boy to read, let him see you read! Or better yet, read to him. One of the biggest factors that triggers reluctant reading is that when boys learn how to read, suddenly they are left to fend for themselves. Their parents and teachers no longer read to them. Reading to boys actually improves their “reading level.” The author points out that the main consumers of audio books are men- because they lend themselves more to their reading style.

There are many other awesome points in this book, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out.

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