I recently overhead a fellow educator say, “We need to show boys that reading is not just for girls.” I think my head spun around. Am I missing out on some boy secret? Do we need to dress up like sports teams so that boys know that reading is for boys too? I’ve raised two boys who are voracious readers. The kind who steal the books that I check out from the library, who are best buds with the school librarian, who sit in the restaurant reading a book and strike up a conversation about it with the server whose day job happens to be high school teacher. So, how do we show boys that reading is for boys? I say we start by showing boys that reading is our priority, our passion. Start by introducing boys to some really great books. And I always say there is no such thing as a boy book or a girl book. There are only great books! If you are a parent, read aloud to your boys from day one. There is so much to be gained by reading aloud to a child. Take boys on regular trips to the book store and library, start a boys’ book club, give them books as gifts and model an avid reading life yourself. If you are the father or other adult in the boy’s life – do this all the more. If you teach boys – light their passion for literacy by showing them great books. Do read alouds. Do book talks. Encourage boys to join GoodReads. Invite authors to your school or classroom. Encourage boys to recommend books to their friends. Create a reading community in your classroom.
Here’s the big secret: if you want to ignite boys’ passion for reading – share your own passionate reading life with them. And here’s yet another secret: if you want to ignite girls’ passion for reading, reread this prescription but replace “boy” with “girl” and “he” with “she”.