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Do your boys struggle with reading? If so, you are not alone. It’s a fact; boys don’t read as much as girls and this reading gender gap is affecting boys’ performance in school and beyond. So how can you encourage boys to read? It will take some trial and error, and possibly research on the parents’ part.
Tips for encouraging boys to read:
1. Read with them.
This should start when they are toddlers. Toddlers will quickly learn that books are fun, pretty, and colorful. All toddlers benefit from the time a loving parent spends reading to him or her.
As they grow, continue to reading with them, whether it is a book for school or just for fun. For us, bedtime was usually the best. This helped them wind down. There were fewer distractions and few time restraints. Even teenagers “secretly” enjoy it when you read to them. I read many of the Sonlight history books and science curriculum to them. We would sit down together after lunch. I allowed the younger ones to play with playdough or something to keep their hands busy. The older ones could just sit or draw. You may be surprised at what the younger children remember from these reading times! (If your child has problems with working memory, this may not work. See my blog in Tears Over School: The Struggling Learner.)
2. As you begin, set time limits, not page requirements.
I found that when I gave them page or chapter requirements, they typically would “speed read” which meant they didn’t really read it thoroughly, comprehend it, or learn anything. They just wanted to finish and move on.
As my son moved into his teen years, I settled on a time frame, along with page/chapter requirements. I would time him for a few days in a row, to see how many pages he read in specified amount of time. However, I tried to be sneaky about it, so he wouldn’t think it was a speed reading test. I would then ask reading comprehension questions that I made up myself by skimming through the pages he has just read. Next, I figured out about how many pages he could read and comprehend in that amount of time. I would then tell him that he needed to read for a determined amount of time or the number of pages I had decided upon.
3.Make if fun
Nobody likes to struggle and feel like they are inadequate. I found that with my struggling reader, boy or girl, if I gave them book choices that were slightly below their reading. This helped make reading enjoyable. They liked the fact that they could read the book quickly, AND understand it! After all, isn’t finishing well a great goal and feeling?
4. Entice them with books that catch their attention.
Leave books lying around on the coffee table, kitchen table, etc. that look fun and interesting. You know your children. What subjects and pictures catch their attention? This gives them the choice to pick it up or not… no pressure. If they take the “bait” and look through it, hopefully, you’ll soon find them reading it as well!
Here are a few suggestions to get you started. We think your boys will enjoy these books, and they will help build character in the process!
Books to read to your toddler or preschooler
Shine A Light Books: Interactive and so fun!
Middle school and high school
The Knights of Arrethtrae Series: This is a series of allegorical books. “As the Knights of the Prince await His triumphant return, they are steadfast in their mission to take His story into the kingdom and recruit as many as are willing. But when a new and dangerous threat is revealed, their mission is jeopardized.”
Kingdom Books: A Riveting Medieval Parallel to the Bible Good and evil clash.
Do you have any great books to recommend? we'd love to hear from you.
Michelle Osborn is a homeschool mom of four. Two married, one of whom is a college graduate, and two teenagers at home. She is the owner of Yellow House Book Rental, a service to homeschool families.
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