Guys (Don't ) Read


Good Washington Post piece that looks at the lower incidence of readers among boys. It's agreed that there is little agreement on why boys tend to read much less than girls.

``Part of it is biological and part of it is sociological, but boys are definitely drifting down,'' said Jon Scieszka, author of the ``The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,'' and founder of the Web site, which is aimed at helping interest boys in reading. ``We've been testing kids in America for the last 25 years and finding out that boys are doing worse than girls,'' he said. ``But we don't do enough to change that.''

(Do have a look at Scieszka's site--it's snazzy!)


Q. You've said your own son stopped reading in the middle of elementary school. What did you do? What can other parents do?

A. What we did when he stopped reading was to back off. ... I just shut up. But I had friends that he really liked who asked him to read things and would suggest things they loved. He would, of course, take their word over anything his mother would say. Sometimes it can be a teacher or another person the child really likes. And maybe a man.

Q. So parents pushing their kids isn't the way to go?

A. No, no, it doesn't usually work. ...

You may not be able to push a kid (or anyone else for that matter) into reading, but you can make them slow down and create an environment for reading. Reading takes patience and an ability to sit still. That's not something that comes naturally to kids but its far from impossible. Unfortunetly in our hurry-up world we've closed off any oppurtunity to explore it.

I like the approach that Lemony Snicket mentioned in an interview (Fresh Air, I think) that his parents had done with him when he was a boy.

They'd read him chapters of a suspensful story and stop for the night at an exciting part. They'd kiss him goodnight and tell him "Now, under no circumstances do I want you to go get that flashlight over there and keep reading under the covers after I leave."

In all fairness since I usually disagree with Greg, let me state that I back his opinion on this issue.

I have two stepdaughters, one of whom has inherited the love of reading from her mother, and the other is slowly starting to enjoy reading. I have thousands upon thousands of books, and since I am a sci-fi/fantasy junkie many have appealing covers to children. So I read them, check for subject material out of their league and pass them on (I wish I could get a less sex involved Dragons of Pern set heh) but the key to having children that read, is for the PARENT to read. I know that is an astounding concept, but I bet if they did solid research rather than incomplete work, they could have correlated the parents reading with that of the students.

(By the way, books have avoided the Ratings schemes of Comics, Movies, Records etc, why is that? Do not want to derail the story, but I have to wonder)

Part of the reason would probably have to do with the sheer amount of books that come out every year. There are only a few big budget movies or CDs per year compared to the tens of thousands of books that come out. This makes it impossible to rate them with any consistency without the publishers themselves doing the rating, which leads to all sorts of conflicts of interest. That's like letting a director rate his own film. Also, the fact the books are as old as recorded history (by their very definition) while movies and CDs are relatively new forms of media may have something to do with it. Finally, a large chunk of the proponents for censorship in media is the christian vote, and they probably realize that if books were rated like movies The Bible would probably be rated NC-17 or at least R because of the graphic sex and violence in it. No kids would ever be allowed to read it.-SDT-

``Part of it is biological and part of it is sociological, but boys are definitely drifting down,'' said Jon Scieszka, author of the ``The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,'' Good thing Jon Scieszka is not the president of Harvard! Oh, he mentioned boys instead of girls, so he would okay as Harvard president.

One of the points that Stephen Abrams made last week at CIL was that boys do lots of reading. It is just that their reading involves short passages of text in the middle of video games. But these are just as valid for them as other types.
Not that there is anything wrong with encouraging them to read other types, but you have to understand where they are coming from.

Makes sense, but it would be nice if publishers could consider a voluntary effort such as the one the computer games industry has in place. Basically identifying graphic sex and violence.Maybe no kids should be allowed to read the bible, perhaps religious education should start no earlier than 18. That would allow it to be conversion by choice rather than by brainwashing. But I do not want to have that debate here :-)

I beg to differ. Where are the girls who're interested in reading? Waaaay more boys in sci-fi readers club, etc, than girls.Seems like most of my guy friends read, but very few women I meet read - well a few read People and the tabloids...-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

Well then, where are you meeting these women? I'll gather it's not the library...

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