Ok, I don’t hate reading; I happen to LOVE it! Reading, in fact, is one of my all-time favorite past times. But far too many boys hate reading.
According to the research:
- boys take longer to learn to read than girls (Interesting note: According to the book Why Gender Matters, the area of the brain that handles language develops, on average, SIX YEARS later in boys than in girls)
- boys read less than girls
- boys don’t value reading as a leisure activity
- the older a boy gets, the more likely he is to consider himself a “nonreader”
Now, two young boys have capitalized on boys’ almost-universal dislike of reading. Ten-year-old Henry Bacon and his brother, twelve-year-old Arthur Bacon, have written a book, I Hate Reading: How to Get Through 20 Minutes a Day of Reading Without Reading.
The book was born — obviously — of their dislike for the 20 minutes a day their school required them to read. And while the book itself is funny, the story behind it is not. Two bright boys — who were so disenfranchised with the idea of forced reading that they wrote a whole book about how not to do it.
I’m not a fan of forced reading. I’m not a fan of forced anything. I much prefer to let children come to what interests them, and to give them the time, freedom and opportunity to explore those interests.
In the case of reading, that may mean waiting until they’re ready. That may not be possible if your kids are in public school, but even so, consider the developmental science. Most boys’ brains are not ready to handle reading in kindergarten, and forcing them to do so before they’re ready only leads to feelings of frustration and inadequacy, which can later turn into — you guessed it — a hate of reading.
Work with your schools, if you must, to promote developmentally appropriate curriculum. And in your own home, provide an array of reading materials. Boys, far more than girls, prefer comic and non-fiction books. Stock your house with magazines, comics (even the Bible comes in comic form now, and there are plenty of comic-style history books), and all kinds of non-fiction. In the meantime, read aloud, anything your boy wants to hear. I personally am sick of reading Bulldozer over and over, but my three-year-old loves it, and I’m determined to keep his love of books alive.