Book Matters: Boys would rather hunt aliens than read

By Teri Harman

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, April 1 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Sullivan also said, “Reading is hard for many boys, but stories are still appealing. Share the reading. Listening to things being read encourages boys to read.” From their earliest days up through high school, boys can benefit from being read to and with, especially by dad.

Strive for daily reading time.

4. Let them move.

Boys are active. Harman told me that most his friends don’t read because “they think they have better things to do, like play.” Boys definitely need to play. They need to move and expel energy. Don’t force them to sit and read if they are bouncing off the walls. Give them something physical to do first (like hunting aliens) and then offer the book.

Encourage shorter reading times if that works better. Three 10-minute sessions are as good as one solid 30-minute session.

For younger boys, make reading an active experience, a fun one. If there are actions going on in the book, have the boy act them out. For example, if a character jumps over a puddle have your boy get off the couch and show you how he would jump over a puddle. Make noises, do voices, move the book around, etc. The more engaging the reading experience, the more likely he is to return to it.

5. Be a reading role model — that means you, Dad!

Sullivan said, “Even when you are not reading to your son, make sure he sees you read, especially you fathers out there! Read in front of your boys. … If you can’t bring yourself to read, at least prop yourself up in plain view of as many boys as possible with a book in your hands and daydream or nap or whatever. Boys need to see men with books.”

A major reason boys aren’t reading these days is because they think it is something only girls do. Most of the reading role models in their lives are women — teachers, mothers, sisters, grandmothers. This stereotype is a massive hurdle. A diligent father can help break down this stereotype and show a young boy that men read, too.

Male reading role models are the most important way to help boys come back to books.

Teri Harman writes and reads from home amid the chaos of three young children. Her bi-weekly column, Book Matters, appears on ksl.com and in the Deseret News. For more book fun visit book-matters.com

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