It can be challenging for us parents to get our kids reading at times, but it is often particularly difficult for boys.
For boys reading can just fail to be a priority. They have an appetite to be active whether that is pursuing sports activities or spending their time outdoors living out real-life adventures. Plus our modern, technology-driven culture has hooked our young people, and particularly boys, into spending more and more time attached to screens often leading to the false belief that books are just “outdated and boring.”
The National Literacy Trust has noted that girls continue to outpace boys in their enthusiasm for reading for pleasure. Their latest study also found that nearly twice as many boys as girls said they do not enjoy reading at all, by 13% to 7%.
However, books are an essential part of the emotional, academic and creative development of every young person. And with girls outperforming boys time and time again in our schools it is vital that we encourage and inspire our reluctant boys into becoming bookworms.
So, how can we as parents keep our boys enthusiastic about books and reading? Well, it’s not always easy and as a mother of two sons I have experienced mixed success in this.
My youngest son (10) is an avid reader who speedily ploughs through books most evenings before he goes to sleep.
My eldest son (13) struggles to maintain his enthusiasm for books as he becomes more independent and his interests diversify.
Here are some things that I believe are really important when it comes to encouraging a love of books in our sons –
- For our kids to love reading they need to see their parents reading. If we read to our kids loads when they are little that’s great, but as they grow older and start to read themselves it’s important that they see us reading too. Otherwise they will start to believe that books aren’t that important as you get older. To encourage boys it’s really important that Dads take the lead and act as good reading role-models.
- Don’t worry about what they read too much. It may be that they repeatedly read the same books over and over again. It may be that they prefer to read non-fiction over a good novel. It may be that they love graphic novels or comic books. Reading is reading! If our boys our engaging with books then this is a good thing – it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare for the benefits of reading to multiply in their lives.
- Find books based on their interests. If your son is football-mad then find books about football, players or other sports. There are so many books to capture the interests of boys available such as coding books, books based on computer games, novels about spies, fantasy or sci-fi.
It can be hard to get boys excited about reading, but I will end with a quote from children’s author, Michael Mulpurgo who urges us all to continue to work at growing bookworms:
“Too many boys still seem disinterested in reading, and far, far too many children simply never become readers at all. So we writers and illustrators and storytellers, and parents and teachers, and publishers and booksellers, must continue to play our part,”
Here are some great books that my sons have enjoyed –