Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sticking it to the man.

Quite literally these days. For the last two years, I have struggled to convince boys that reading, especially, is a manly thing to do. The boys in my reading classes have made significant progress in the decoding, comprehending, and analyzing aspect of reading, but I still feel like a failure at convining them of both the importance of reading and the enjoyment of reading.
I did not find a love for reading until after reading The Great Gatsby my junior year of high school. I think I was still trying to turn in book reports on Clifford Goes to Hollywood the year before.
There could be a host of reasons why boys don't develop the love for reading that we need them to. Could it be the lack of interesting fiction and non-fiction for boys to choose from? Could it be that many of our elementary school teachers, outside of P.E. and technology, are female and so choose books that appeal to them more than the boys?
Ultimately, what bothers me about the issue is that there isn't an overwhelming outcry over our failure to teach boys to read. There are no ACLU rallies or Title IX lawsuits. We've come to expect and accept low reading scores from boys. Why? It is the same type of discrimination that, should the sample group be minority, poor, or female, would have 60 Minutes interviews and Anderson Cooper in depth, flak jacket reporting.


At 9:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This past year I had 5 boys and 2 girls in my second grade Literacy Block. We read the stories from the Anthology and I also supplimented with trade books. I gave the kids choices and they all chose the same things. The boys' favorites (from all that we read) were the non-fictions (What Lives in a Shell? and An Octopus is Amazing) and the actiony books (Magic Tree House: Mummies in the Morning and The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash).

A few years ago I had a group of fifth graders. I think it was 2 boys and 6 girls. The boys were not big book fans, but they really got into what we were reading. That year we read: Tuck Everlasting (my favorite YA book ever), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, My Side of the Mountain (we all hated it), and Ella Enchanted. All the kids enjoyed what we read, excecpt My Side of the Mountain. We had long discussions about the stories and they had good questions and ideas.

I bought my friend's son, Guys Write for Guys Read. He was 11 and hated reading. Now he is 12, and he loves that book. He has also started reading more.

There are studies and books out there addressing this problem.

Good luck.


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