Our school libraries will remain largely unused by boys if we don’t have what they genuinely want to read. There may well be many books in our libraries that will benefit boys, broadening their experience, helping them mature, widening their vocabulary, giving them confidence, and aiding the rest of their learning; books achieve such things not by their high literary quality – though some of them will have this – but by being read.
Our challenge is to value boys’ reading tastes, whatever they are; to feed demand for the popular; and to tempt boys by the very best. We can never be confident that we know enough about which books boys want to see in their school library – or even more crucially, about which books would draw in those who never visit it. Our own guesswork is not good enough – we need to learn from the users. Talk to boys; if you are genuine about your need to know their reading tastes, they’ll respond to this: boys long for what's real...the gross, the unexpected, the astonishing...the TRUTH. That's why boys tend to lean more toward non-fiction. Now, don't get me wrong. Each child is different. However, research shows that the vast majority of boys prefer non-fiction reading material. So why do boys, on average, tend to read less than girls? Think about the number of female educators we have. Females have reading habits far different from boys..and while never done purposely, female teachers do not always offer what appeals to male students in the area of reading. I have been guilty of this myself. What do you see women reading while waiting at the doctor's office or on a plane? Fiction. Romance novels, mystery novels, etc. Men? Non-fiction. Time magazine, Sports magazines, newspapers... Eye opening, isn't it?? Therefore, find non-fiction to put in your son's hands...or that student who is a reluctant reader...and you might just have something.
Here are some frequent conclusions from surveys and experience;
Boys are more likely to read for a purpose, if they can see the point in it. What am I learning? What facts can I find? THIS is why boys often prefer non-fiction, books with photographs and captions...and "fun facts" books. These non-fiction interests can then spark an interest in the fiction books - sports, cars, animals, geography...Boys often crave the subject of the moment, and switch to new ones fast.
Magazines are a big hit with boys: Lego Club Magazine, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick...because...they have articles about REAL stuff!
So, think non-fiction when you're trying to coax your son into reading...and if your son doesn't require coaxing...then you're already doing something right!
Check out one of my favorite resources for boys, when it comes to reading: Guys Read. Bookmark it on your computer...you never know, you might learn something!