Why Are Boys Not Reading Anymore?

I am sure you will agree with me that boys’ aversion to reading, let alone to novels, has been worsening for years. The question we ask, Why are boys not reading anymore? There are several reasons for boys not reading anymore.

Here are some reasons why boys do not like reading

• I have heard some say that boys do not like to explore their emotions and feelings and therefore do not like reading fiction.
• One expert states that boys also do not have enough male role models for literacy.
• Boys prefer video games and ESPN to book versions of them. It is said that these knockoffs also lack the tough, edgy story lines that allow boys a private place to reflect on the inner fears of failure and humiliation they try so hard to brush over.

What are some of the factors that contribute to boys not reading?

 boys not reading
Girls outpace boys in words read after grade 4

Are the publishers targeting boys? It seems that publishers focus more on girls. A leading publishing company executive said at least three-­quarters of her target audience were girls, and they wanted to read about mean girls, gossip girls, and vampires.

Editors who ask writers of books for boys to include girl characters — for commercial reasons — further blunt the edges.

Also, if we are to encourage reading among boys they need to be approached individually with books that deals their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy. It is important as well to involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.

Now what type of books do boys gravitate toward? Nonfiction. Over the years, it seems that schools favor classics over contemporary fiction. This is because they try to satisfy testing standards and avoid challenges from parents. To add to the problem, teachers don’t always know what’s out there for boys.

It would be good to see someone like a Justin Bieber promote reading among boys. And since majority of adults involved in kids’ reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity.

In addition to including the important people such as parents, librarian, teachers and communities in providing a solution, says Jon Scieszka, author of children’s books, suggests strategies to help boys read better: “clear, structured instruction; short bursts of intense work; specific goals; praise; hands-on learning; and use of humor.”

Understanding boys and reading

If we are to encourage boys to read, we must understand them and what gets them to read. According to Smith and Wilhelm in Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men, boys differ from girls in the choices they make of reading material:

• Boys are more inclined to read informational texts, magazines, and newspaper articles

• Boys are more inclined to read graphic novels and comic books

• Boys tend to resist reading stories about girls, whereas girls do not tend to resist
reading stories about boys

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

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

• Boys read less fiction than girls

• Boys tend to enjoy escapism and humor, and some boys are passionate about
science fiction or fantasy

Here are some suggestions that librarians can take to improve attitudes toward reading among boys. These include:

• planning programs aimed just at boys

• doing book talks in the classroom that include a lot of nonfiction

• buying American Library Association Read posters that feature males

• encouraging coaches of boys’ sports teams to participate in a Guys Read program such as having athletes read to younger children

• increasing the number of periodicals, magazines, comic books, and newspapers in the library

• actively recruiting boys to work in the library

• surveying boys about their reading

• buying books that boys recommend

• putting books where the boys are: next to the computers, copy machines, and study tables. Allowing boys to find reflections of who they are and what they like in a library may encourage a return visit.

A new study in the UK found that youngsters who used the new technology were more likely to have their nose in a story for longer, were more likely to say that reading is “cool” and were less likely to find reading difficult. The findings show that boys had a bigger attitude change towards reading after picking up an ebook than girls.

“It is important to recognize the increased reading opportunities that technology offers pupils and how it can help children who struggle to read, for example by giving them the option of increasing the font size of the text. This study indicates that technology has most potential to engage children, particularly boys, who do not enjoy reading.” According to research eBooks can help to boost boys’ abilities in reading and encourage them to enjoy the subject.

It seems that as parents, librarians, and teachers, we have our work cut out for us. We have to recognize the challenges facing why boys not reading anymore and take steps to help them change their attitude about reading.

Click here to find ebooks for boys.

Please leave a comment below.


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4 thoughts on “Why Are Boys Not Reading Anymore?”

  1. Speaking as a man-boy, I think you should be proud of yourself for getting me to focus and read that!

    Joking aside, there’s a lot of interesting psychology behind what you say and I can empathise with a lot of it. In my opinion we need to use that to our advantage, for example targeting boys with things they want to read rather than what we expect them to read.

    1. Hi Dave, Glad that you read my post. I have a psychology background and my research as shown that we have not done a good job encouraging boys to read. I agree with you that we should use this discipline to inform us in helping boys to read again. Thanks for your comments.

  2. I think that the love of reading always starts in the home. If boys are not encouraged and read to on a daily basis and books are not part of the family culture (and lets face it-how many families these days truly value books over TV?) why would they grow up and enjoy reading? I have really noticed that the families that place the highest value on TV and other screen time activities are the ones who are least likely to have a book shelf in their house.This is a society problem in my personal opinion in a world where instant gratitude often reigns.

    1. Hi Liz,

      Thank you for your comments. I agree that the love of reading starts at home. I hope that parent/s at home take the lead to encourage reading time. Thanks again.

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