McLean's Brain

Thinking about the Hot Topics in Literacy

Boys LIteracy

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I have two sons, aged 7 and 9. Every evening during the school year they would have to do some independent reading. Every night they had difficulty finding a book. Every night became a battle because they had already read the book, the book was too easy, the book was too hard, and so on. They would scream through the reading, write the bare minimum for their responses so that they could focus on what really engaged them: A videogame or their iPad. As a parent, I was frustrated. As an educator, I became concerned. These are the questions I began asking myself...



  • How do I respond to the needs of boys when it comes to reading?
  • How do I complete with videogames so that Reading becomes motivating and Engaging?


Thankfully, this summer I took Reading Part one through the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario. Part of our studies centred on Boy's Literacy. Two documents,

Me Read? No Way! and Me Read? and How! provide some excellent strategies on how to instill a love of reading in boys. To be honest, these strategies will work for all readers.

Two strategies from Me Read? No Way! were things that my wife and I wanted to try with our sons, then extend our newfound learning to the classroom. The first strategy was called Help make it a habit. It stresses providing enjoyable reading opportunities, one involving linking reading to current trends or personalities. My sons love the game Minecraft, so we purchased two books on the topic. We are saving the books for rainy summer day, but I am sure they will love them! We also decided to visit the public library once a week in the summer. We discovered a collection of graphic novels/comics based on the Marvel Superheroes that my oldest son is super-excited about.
Another strategy we are trying to adopt for our sons is called Get the Net, which uses technology to get boys excited about reading. Our sons love their iPads, so we try use this interest to provide opportunities for reading. These are three of the apps that our sons use most frequently on the iPad.
The video Boy's Voices: Technology in the Classroom, helped me understand how to extend the use of technology from the home to the school.
Boys’ Voices: Technology in the Classroom
I think another strategy that works best with boys is to Take a Step Back. I came home last night to find a huge mess in the living room. After thinking," OH THEY ARE FOR SURE CLEANING THIS UP!!!" I took a closer look. They had set up small centres, and the dining room table was a teacher's desk, complete with comments and marks. What looked like a disaster to me was actually some pretty cool play based learning! Left to their own devices, kids can accomplish amazing things.