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Almost any school or public librarian who has visited a secondary school classroom to booktalk could tell the tale about the student, always a male, who will defiantly and proudly announce to the librarian that he doesn’t read. Chances are much of that is for show, to mark turf and to challenge. Chances are that boy does read. But not the stack of novels the booktalking librarian no doubt has in front of her; instead, that male is probably reading newspapers (especially comics, sports and entertainment), magazines (same list of subjects, but throw in video game magazines for younger teens) and maybe even heavily illustrated nonfiction.
Report on Tell Us What You Think About Reading: Teen Read Week 2006
There were 9594 participants who shared their opinions in the Teen Read Week 2006 survey. Of the 9594 people who took the survey, 7217 were girls, 2377 were boys, and 258 did not indicate their gender.
Teen Read Week Survey, 2001 Statement Girls Boys Total I read constantly for my own personal satisfaction, and I love it. 35% 17% 28% I don't have much time to read for pleasure, but I like to when I get the chance. 41% 40% 41% I only read what I'm supposed to for school. 13% 24% 17% I basically don't read books much at all. 5% 9% 5% No answer. 6% 10% 7%
What Will Teenage Boys Read ?
One has to want to read: it takes effort and commitment
Adolescence is sometimes accompanied by Wordsworth's “shades of the prison house” in that boys are less inclined to admit to emotional engagement with a text. Reading is something they did when they were “kids”. Perhaps also they become aware that some of the truths of the world are far stranger than the fiction they have grown up with at primary school.
Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys
Literacy in the Lives of Young Men
Through a variety of creative research methods and an extended series of interviews with 49 young men in middle and high school who differ in class, race, academic achievement, kind of school, and geography, the authors identified the factors that motivated these young men to become accomplished in the activities they most enjoyed—factors that marked the boys’ literate activities outside of school, but were largely absent from their literate lives in school.
Michael W. Smith and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
So why don’t boys read?
Michael W. Smith:
One of our most important findings was that boys do read. It’s just that many of them don't read the kinds of things that schools value.
ETC: Are you saying that schools should bring those kinds of texts into their curricula?
Smith: Not exactly, though we think that schools should recognize the importance of a wider variety of texts than they do. I've spent my professional life teaching literature and studying the way readers read and talk about texts, yet if you asked me if I'd rather have my students read the paper every day or a novel once a week, the paper would win hands down.
Michael W. Smith Interview
What makes them want to read?
When the following five conditions were met:
They felt competent in the reading they did, and they could exercise control over the reading they had to do.
The reading they were asked to do was neither too hard nor too easy for them.
They understood the purpose for the reading, and they received immediate feedback on it.
They did the reading for enjoyment in the present moment rather than for some instrumental or far-off-in-the-future purpose.
The reading had a social dimension.
Asking the Right Questions: Literate Lives of Boys
Michael Sullivan in Connecting Boys with Books :
Boys like motion, color, and humor--and the grosser the humor the better. And they love nonfiction. They basically love the kinds of books that don't win the Newbery or similar awards.
Boys get the message in our culture that men don’t read, unless the reading is brief and factual. (I see a lot of people reading on the subway, going to and from work. Far more women read than men, and women are about 95% of the fiction readers, while men are reading primarily textbooks or documents for work.)
Boys need to see men read. Do your best to bring in men to read to kids, and encourage dads to let their kids see them reading.
Summarized by Walter Minkel
Reading, the way guys like it...
A suggestion from Michael Sullivan:
A Project for your local school... Literary Lunch!
Sign up kids (third through sixth grades work great) to take their lunches out of the cafeteria and into an empty classroom and read them a book! No pressure, no assignments, no requirements, just eat your lunch while we read to you. Read during the whole lunch period, mark the page where you finish, and take up where you left off the next day. Try to pick a book you can read comfortably in a week.
Read the Article/See the Picture
Reading outside school
Boys and girls are engaging in literacy events outside of the classroom; however, although the literacies of girls are more aligned with practices encouraged by school (reading fiction, writing stories and poems) and are more compliant in the face of dull, meaningless activities, boys are better preparing themselves for the world beyond school. The abilities to navigate the Internet, experiment with alternative literacies, and “read” multiple texts simultaneously are more useful workplace skills than is the ability to analyze a work of fiction or to write a narrative account.
Helping Boys Become Better Readers, Better Students, Better Guys
The creator of books such as The Stinky Cheese Man, Math Curse, and the Time Warp Trio series, Scieszka is widely known among librarians, teachers, and kids. His background includes teaching elementary school for ten years; he also grew up with five brothers.
“ Literacy statistics show that we are not giving boys what they need to be successful readers,” children’s author Jon Scieszka told Education World . “Boys need our help. And the greatest challenge to boys’ literacy is probably getting people to understand that boys do need help.
“ Women teachers and librarians and book publishers and booksellers: Imagine you are a boy and re-examine what you are offering and/or requiring ... from a boy’s point of view. Men: Be a role model, be a role model, be a role model.”
How can we help boys, Scieszka?
Scieszka’s important resource
Guys Read p. 2
Another tactic Durk Brown, left, and his son, Nicholas Brown, 7, look through a National Geographic Kids magazine at the Natrona County Public Library on Thursday morning. The library will be offering a reading program called "No Girls Allowed" to encourage young boys to read more. Photo by Kerry Huller, Star-Tribune
http://www.dangerousbookforboys.com/ Trailer Learn how to get your students "Dangerous" for school!
Author of “Dangerous Book for Boys”
I was born in the normal way in 1971, and vaguely remember half-pennies and sixpences. I have written for as long as I can remember: poetry, short stories and novels.
My mother is Irish and from an early age she told me history as an exciting series of stories - with dates. My great-grandfather was a Seannachie , so I suppose story-telling is in the genes somewhere.