Raising Black Genius: Boys and Reading
I can tell you as a parent of a son and a daughter, there are definitely gender differences even in learning. One question parents ask me is “How can I get my son to read?” I personally had to figure out this question as my son’s early reading habits looked very different than my daughters. Almost immediately he focused more on technology and less on wanting to read a book. This was a habit I was needing to find a solution to fast.
I found out I am not alone…
Statistics from http://www.guysread.com/about/
A lot of boys are having trouble reading.
- The U.S. Department of Education reading tests for the last 30 years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.
- Eighth grade boys are 50 percent more likely to be held back than girls.
- Two-thirds of Special Education Students in high school are boys.
- Overall college enrollment is higher for girls than boys.
My biggest advice: start early…probably in the womb. Yes we are seeing a decrease in reading as our sons age. Many books and article have looked at this epidemic that is happening. It used to be that we once believed that boys would catch up to girls in the later grades with reading. That is no longer the case as explored in a New York Times Article Boys and Readings: Is There Any Hope by Robert Lipsyte.
Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope? By Robert Lipsyte http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/books/review/boys-and-reading-is-there-any-hope.html
“this is exactly what boys do, in the classroom and in the library, as well as in the clubhouse. If we’re to counter this tendency and encourage reading among boys who may collectively resist it, boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.”
I began very early with my son, working in this field I knew what I was up against. Let’s face it boys like to be entertained. So while my daughter was content reading the books sent home from school during the early years, I had to go to the great lengths to find engaging books for my son. I noticed a huge difference the first time I introduced him to a Hot Wheels Car early reading book set. He would not put the books down…literally…they went everywhere with him.
So we found every early reader books at the library that were superheroes, or cartoon characters or power rangers. Yes, the public library has tons of BOY friendly reading books. This made a huge difference in his desire to read. Remember Action, Adventure, Animals when picking out books for your son. Words are words, even if Power Rangers are saying them.
Another great resource are books on tapes. Boys need to learn in three-dimensional learning environments and their brains thrive with this type of learning. My son would love to sit with the headsets on and listen to the books as he flipped the pages. Scholastic Books has a great selection of boy friendly books on tape. And yes we found these at the library too. Free is always good for me.
I continue to allow my son to read anything in his pleasure reading. I have learned the more freedom I give him in selecting his books the more he is willing to read. My children read 30 minutes a day on weekends to help increase their vocabulary and read their school work during the week.
A big part of our love for reading has also come from going to the library weekly- yes weekly. We would go for new books each week. They pick out their own books and then I pick a few educational books that I want them to read. They have their own library cards and have been able to check out their own books from preschool age.
To get boys to read we have to instill it in them as fun, interesting- not just as homework or a chore that is miserable or punishment.
I often find my son reading in his free time all on his own without being asked to. As a mother, this is a great feeling and I will continue to develop his love of reading each step of the way.
Check out my channel on Youtube Raising Black Genius and my video on Boys and Reading for more great tips.
Check out my book on Amazon, Powerful, Peaceful Parenting.
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