Helping Boys Read

Ideas to help your son / grandson learn to read

Get Boys Excited about Reading!

The statistics are consistent. Boys lag behind girls in communication and literacy skills. Studies confirm this in 30+ countries.

Boys develop slower than girls. From 1- to 14-year-olds, boys typically underperform through the entire reading process: expressive/receptive language, letter and sound recognition, vocabulary, and reading skills.

The difference is obvious. Girls speak 30 percent more words daily than boys. And girls talk more from an early age — to toys and dolls and playing school — while boys are building towers and smashing cars, trucks, and dinosaurs. So, its natural girls are more adept with language.

10 ideas to boost your boy’s reading skills:

  1. Read to your kids daily until they begin primary school. Dads should read to boys, too.

  • 0-1 Year: Lullabies, Board Books (real pictures), Cloth Books (various textures), Song Books

  • 1-3 Years: Rhyming Books, Song Books, Short-Story Board Books

  • 3-5 Years: Alphabet Books, Song Books, Picture Books, Rhyming Books

  1. Be a reading role model. Let your children see YOU read for at least a few minutes each day! Magazines, newspapers, cookbooks, Bible, etc.

  2. Involve multiple senses. Teach the letter sounds along with the letter names. Can they recite rhymes or lines from their favorite book pages?

  3. Make a game out of teaching rhyming words. Boys like challenges (they can win). What 3 words rhyme with the “car” that’s in the story?

  4. Ask questions while reading. Interact with the story. Expand the story with your combined imaginations. When your child is 2-3 years old, ask questions before, during, and after reading the book.

  5. Teach letters in every-day settings. Traffic signs, magazine covers, games, billboards.

  6. Buy the kind of books boys want to read. Fast action, short chapters, heroic adventure, humor, sports, hobbies, and picture-myself-as.

  7. Interactive books entertain boys. They like “pick a path” books that require decisions.

  8. Put books where the boys are – next to computers, games, TVs, in car seats.

  9. Buy books that are short and/or have short chapters. Get quick wins. Boys tend to have a harder time reading and their major complaint is reading is boring and takes too long.

If you're a parent / grandparent of a baby boy, toddler or preschooler, experts recommend spending 15 minutes or more reading to your child daily until they reach primary school.

Help for getting older boys to read:

Educators share the goal of providing equal learning opportunities for every student in the classroom. Providing equitable opportunities for girls is a familiar topic. Providing them for boys is a relatively recent issue, and is appearing with increasing urgency on education agendas around the world.

Recently popularized gender-neutral content strategies may, in fact, be impeding reading success. Increasing evidence indicates that gender is a significant factor in reading materials and achievement.

  1. Boys typically score lower on standardized tests in the language arts around the world

  2. Boys are more likely to be placed in special education programs

  3. Boys are less likely to go to college / universities

  4. Dropout rates are higher for boys.

Researchers suggests providing books for boys that:

  • Are “storied,” using a narrative approach that focuses more on plot and action than on description

  • Are visual, such as movies and cartoons, providing a multimedia experience

  • Are musical, providing the opportunity to develop literacy skills through an exploration of lyrics and discussions about musical tastes, the role of music in students’ lives, and so on

  • Provide “exportable knowledge” – that is, information boys can use in conversation, such as headlines, box scores, jokes, “cool parts” of books or movies

  • Sustain engagement, such as series books or collections that allow readers to “see what’s up” with characters they have come to care about

  • Show multiple perspectives, exploring topics from a variety of points of view

  • Are novel or unexpected in a school setting, such as satire

  • Are edgy or controversial – worth arguing and caring about

  • Contain powerful or positive ideas that have political, moral, or “life-expanding” appeal

  • Are funny, appealing to boys’ taste for humor.

Plus, boys:

  • Are more inclined to read graphic novels, comic books, informational texts, magazines, and newspaper articles

  • Like to read about hobbies, sports, and things they might do or be interested in doing

  • Tend to enjoy escapism and humor. Some are passionate about science fiction or fantasy

  • Like to collect things and tend to like to collect series of books

  • Tend to resist reading stories about girls.