How To Get A 4 Year Old To Stop Hitting Boys Don’t Read – It’s True

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Boys Don’t Read – It’s True

I grew up reading sports history and playing hockey. So what’s the best subject for my first foray into the children’s lit genre? “Good luck selling it,” a publisher told me when I showed him the manuscript. “Boy isn’t it.”

Boy isn’t it? This is the first time I heard about it, and I have a five-year-old son. I started researching the topic – and sure enough, I found it was absolutely right. Once the boys hit eight or nine years old, they stop reading.

All the woods were sacrificed in a series of discontent reports on the subject. Educators tell us that boys are dropping out of art classes as soon as they can. In elementary school children’s tests, girls consistently outperform boys in reading and writing tests by a wide margin. This is consistent with international results: Similar results were found in a recent study of 36 countries. Business leaders are beginning to take notice, complaining that recent university graduates often lack basic literacy skills. About 50 percent of all high school-aged boys consider themselves non-readers!

Even these studies make it clear, if it wasn’t already, that reading is an essential life skill. In a 2004 Canadian government report, reading is described as a “search for deeper meaning” that allows children to “refine, extend, and reflect on their thoughts” and that will “result in higher levels of learning.” Boys who read often get higher grades in school, and are less anxious about schoolwork. And perhaps most important of all, the boy who read becomes the man who read.

Most literacy experts have zeroed in on one culprit: technology. There are too many TVs, MSN, computers, video games, Internet, Game Boy, and iPod. These mediums are winning the battle for the hearts, eyes and ears of our boys. The solution is equally clear – boys must be presented with books that strike them as equally meaningful and interesting as these other means.

We understand the problem. We have identified the culprit. We have a solution. So why don’t we reverse the trend? To put it bluntly, why is it something girls do?

Before writing my novel, I made a few trips to the bookstore to check out the competition. At first, I was very encouraged: There was no competition. Almost all books were for girls. The depth and range of these girl-oriented novels was impressive, and as the father of a 10-year-old girl, I was delighted. Some selections oriented towards boys were non-fiction sports books – either biographical accounts of athletes or a catalog of statistics. Little wonder boy does not read – there is nothing for them to read.

A vicious cycle needs to be broken. Boys don’t read, so publishers don’t publish books for them, and writers write for girls. Boys continue to read because nothing interests them, which only encourages publishers and writers to avoid this market.

I want my child to read. I want her to be like my daughter, who will ignore multiple dinner calls to finish a chapter, or secretly turn on her night light to finish a book. I have a classic stash for it. But after we pass Tom Sawyer, what will he read?

More to the point, it will read at all – or just turn on the computer?

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