Dads of the world, it is incredibly important that you let your sons catch you reading for enjoyment. Despite efforts to close the gap, boys are still far behind girls in reading. Watching a male role model read for fun could be the stimulus that a boy needs to get him interested in reading. Dads are the people with greatest influence on their sons, and if you hate reading, your boys are likely to hate reading, too. Maybe you do hate reading, but that can change if you find the right books.
Jon Scieszka award winning author and reading advocate for boys spoke about what he thinks are some of the reasons boys are struggling with reading. He said, "Boys don't have enough positive male role models for literacy. Because the majority of adults involved in kids' reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity." He is right. In public schools, most teachers and librarians are women, as are most of the people involved in writing and publishing books for kids. My husband is very involved with our kids, but even as a homeschooling family, the job of selecting literature for our kids has usually fallen to me.
I have used a variety of resources to help try to pick books that will engage my son. I want him to challenge himself as a reader, but left to choose on his own, he almost always picks books well below his actual reading level. Using reviews on Amazon.com, reading lists like Scholastic's 100 Greatest Books for Kids and the Classical Christian Education 1000 Good Books List, I have really only succeeded in running around in circles, knowing what I might like to read but never truly being able to predict what will capture my son's interest. That is why I think dads and sons together might be better able to find their own books, independent of a mom's well-meaning efforts.
Scieszka developed a website dedicated to helping guys of all ages find enjoyable books to read. It is called, appropriately enough, Guysread.com, and there are selections for everyone, divided into categories such as, "For Little Guys", "At Least One Explosion", and "Classics that Actually Hold Up". Of course, if you already enjoy reading, you probably have an idea about your favorite genres and authors. But if you don't know where to start, a website like Scieszka's is a lot easier to navigate than aimlessly walking through the aisles of the library looking for covers that jump out at you.
Speaking of the library, get a card and make library day an event that you and your son can share. Borrowed books cost nothing to try, and you can sample lots of different authors without losing any money on bad matches. Many libraries also now offer fun activities, such as Lego Club and science expos that you can participate in before checking out the books. If your library does not offer guy-friendly activities, show them this article and suggest that they think about doing things to draw in young male readers.
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