How To Encourage Reluctant Boy Readers

Got a reluctant reader? 

You’re not alone. Many boys are reluctant readers.

Forcing boys to read — or fighting with them about their reading habits — can backfire. Try these strategies to help your son appreciate the wonderful world of reading (and all the benefits that some with it.)

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Look for novels that are based on movie or computer games for them.

Introducing youngsters to reading through books that they are already interested in is significantly less difficult than introducing them to something they have never seen before. Nowadays, a plethora of films are based on books. It is fascinating for children to observe the differences between the content of a film and a book.

There are also a slew of books and comics that are based on video games. When playing video games, the player is frequently immersed in a tale, and when that story comes to an end, it is only normal to wish that it might continue if you have loved being a part of it. An avid gamer is far more likely to enjoy a book featuring characters and settings from his favorite video game than, well, just about any other book you hand him. 

Let the read whatever they want to read

For those who truly want to see their children reading, do not be overly concerned about the content of a book. Books are unlikely to have an adverse effect on their behavior. Fiction can actually be an excellent environment for youngsters to face and think about difficult subjects in a safe environment. Allow your son to read graphic novels, comics, or even listen to an audiobook subscription. 

Also, do not be overly concerned with the quality of the material they are reading. Keep in mind that the most important thing is to get into the habit of reading regularly. It is at school that students will be exposed to literature that are intended to challenge their abilities and knowledge. (It’s also completely normal for children to read and re-read material they enjoy, even if that material is below their current reading level.) As Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, once said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

Talk to librarians 

Children’s librarians are a wealth of information, and they are always up to date on the latest and greatest in the world of books for children. There is no alternative for their knowledge and experience, so stop by your local library and visit with them! Better yet: bring your boy along, and let him chat with the librarian about his interests and the kinds of the books he likes (and hates!) A good librarian will point him in the right direction.

Speak to school about how you can support your child

For more information, consult your child’s English teacher and the school librarian. Share your son’s preferences with them, so they too can help him choose books he will enjoy. Teachers and school librarians can also share online book lists and recommendations with you and your child. (Our Books for Boys list is also packed with suggestions.)

Be a good reading role model

Reading in front of your child gives the message that you believe reading to be both fun and worthwhile. Make sure they can see you reading a variety of materials, from novels to non-fiction, newspapers to blogs on your tablet computer or smartphone. Though this method is not certain to get them to read, it certainly delivers the proper message. Also, if you are reading something you believe your child may enjoy, leave it out in plain sight so they can take a look.

With effort and persistence, some reluctant readers learn to enjoy books. (Did you know that Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, once hated reading and would do anything to avoid it? Discovering The Lord of the Rings at age 13 changed his life — and the lives of many, many readers!)

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The Building Boys Bulletin

The Building Boys Bulletin Newsletter gives you the facts, encouragement, and inspiration you need to help boys thrive. Written by Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four sons and author of Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males, Building Boys Bulletin includes:

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“I learned a lot about helping boys thrive over the past 20+ years — most of it the hard way! I’m eager to share what I’ve learned to make your path a little easier.”   – Jennifer

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