Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boys and Reading

Last month Miss Katie and I had the opportunity to hear librarian Michael Sullivan's presentation "Connecting Boys with Books." Sullivan spoke about troubling statistics that show boys' interest and proficiency in reading drops off in elementary school. By 11th grade the average boy is three years behind the average girl in terms of reading level. Sullivan believes elementary-age boys become discouraged about reading and therefore do it less and less. He cited brain research that shows boys' brains develop more slowly than girls in their early years, until they catch up at the age of about 14, and says this could explain the reading level gap. Sullivan also highlighted research that shows it is the amount of reading--time spent with text--that makes a child a better reader, not the level or type of book. So, whether a boy enjoys reading comics, dinosaur books, or books about trains, just make sure he reads a lot of them!

Sullivan encouraged librarians, parents, teachers, and all adults who care about kids to do everything they can to keep boys excited about reading. Here are some of Michael Sullivan's recommendations for boys and reading:
  • Surround boys with light, fun books that they enjoy reading.
  • Never stop reading aloud to boys! Exposure to narrative helps with their comprehension.
  • Give boys access to audio books! Many are auditory learners.
  • Don't pay attention to the reading level of the books they are choosing. What matters is that they are reading! Developing the habit of reading is the most important thing.
For tons of resources about boys and books, including reading lists of books many boys enjoy, check out Michael Sullivan's website:

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