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Monday, March 29, 2010

Getting Boys to Read... Anything!

I recently posted Ten CC's of Books for Boys over at my Teach with Picture Books blog. In that cleverly titled post I feature ten topics which will get boys reading: Caped Crusaders, Curious Critters, Corporeal Crud, etc. (See my cleverness?).

One of my Twitter friends, Kim Sivick (@ksivick), checked out that post and shared a link to a New York Times Op Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof. In the Boys Have Fallen Behind, Kristof points out that
...the Center on Education Policy, an independent research organization, confirms that boys have fallen behind in reading in every single state. It found, for example, that in elementary schools, about 79 percent of girls could read at a level deemed “proficient,” compared with 72 percent of boys. Similar gaps were found in middle school and high school. In every state, in each of the three school levels, girls did better on average than boys.
The Center's report is no shock to me; what shocks me is that the gap isn't larger!

Kristof also cites Richard Whitmire, whose book Why Boys Fail offers additional sad stats, who says, “The world has gotten more verbal. Boys haven’t.”

Kristof then confirms what I asserted in my Ten CC's post by saying
Some educators say that one remedy may be to encourage lowbrow, adventure or even gross-out books that disproportionately appeal to boys. (I confess that I was a huge fan of the Hardy Boys, and then used them to entice my own kids into becoming avid readers as well.)
Indeed, the more books make parents flinch, the more they seem to suck boys in. A Web site,, offers useful lists of books to coax boys into reading, and they are helpfully sorted into categories like “ghosts,” “boxers, wrestlers, ultimate fighters,” and “at least one explosion.”

All in all, it seems that Kristof, like me, supports any and every avenue possible to get boys reading. Over time, of course, boys' tastes will mature and they'll move on to more refined topics.

That's all for now. I have to see what's new over at People of Walmart and Awkward Family Photos.


max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it, especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series - is coming out in June. Contracts are also signed for Captain Jack's Treasure and River Rampage.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson
PS. My first 7 books are going to be republished by Comfort Publishing later in 2010

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