BOTTOM LINE? Boys Need to Read.

People often ask, “Why do your books specify ‘for boys’?”

The answer comes from studies in learning, and my own personal experience as a teacher also raising a son who was a reluctant reader.

Among the most persuasive education studies was done by the Center on Education Policy. They found that “the most pressing issue related to gender gaps [in education] is the lagging performance of boys in reading.

Specifically the 2010 study found that boys had reading comprehension levels lagging behind girls—at every grade level.

And in every state across America.

That’s an epidemic (and it was happening in my own home). More than a decade after that study was done, the boys-not-reading problem has only worsened. Books now compete against computer and video games, social media, and an avalanche of streaming television.

This problem should trouble us all.

Studies show that boys who aren’t reading proficiently by grade 5 will struggle even more through middle school. They’re also at a much higher risk of dropping out of high school.

Simply put: Boys need to read—early and often.

But what’s a parent to do with a son who hates to read? Or a boy who struggles with comprehension issues?

First, find books he WANTS to read. Second, make reading an adventure. Offer incentives for finishing a book. Read along with him, or, as many parents of dyslexic boys have discovered, have him read along the Audio version of a book. It’s been shown to raise  vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Further, these studies confirm what I discovered as the father of a reluctant reader, and as a middle school history teacher.

Generally speaking, boys who avoid books will gravitate to reading that is:

  • Nonfiction
  • Action-packed
  • “Just for them”

That’s why I started writing military history for my son—writing that grew into the Great Battles for Boys series.

Military battles offered true stories of valor and action-packed adventure. Plus, I made my series “just for him and his friends” — the boys.

Can girls read these books? Of course!

But in my own middle-school classroom, and in my own home, I’ve witnessed the kind of specialized attention boys need in reading, especially very active boys who don’t like to sit still and hold a book.

At the same time, I’ve seen what happens when a boy starts to engage with books. His whole world opens up — at home and in school.

Take this recent review from a young reader:

“I am 8 years old and I love this series. I have been using some of the battle strategies that you talk about in the books against my mom in Laser Tag. I love how you put the links at the end of each chapter and my favorite book is the one on the battles from Bunker (Breed’s) hill to WWl. I think you are a terrific author and I can’t wait for more of these great books!”

That’s the kind of excitement I wish for every boy — and for their parents.

 

If you’d like to read more about reading proficiency issues among boys, here are some further resources:

Boys Fall Further Behind Girls for Daily Reading Amid Lockdown: https://bit.ly/2MKGCJz

Study Shows Boys Have Fallen Behind Girls in Reading: https://bit.ly/2MslBDr

New Study Shows Boys Lagging Behind Girls in Reading: https://abcn.ws/2MHIumb

Why Boys Aren’t Reading: https://bit.ly/3j7ZMVB

 

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