How to get boys interested in reading?

By Sumbhav M- 3 minutes read

Reading is a key life skill, it is required everywhere and in everything you do, however, certain studies depict boys as having much worse reading habits than girls! As a student, I have experienced similar things from my male peers who often look for more active sources of entertainment, this can leave a lasting impact on the reading ability of a boy. A study conducted by Keith Topping, professor of educational and social research at the University of Dundee, produced two research papers, one of them used data from 852,295 students from 3,243 schools which make up a considerable portion of school children in the UK. For more information on this study visit this article by The Guardian. Although for a quick summary, it shows that boys of any age read less thoroughly than girls and skip parts lazily, furthermore they do not pick challenging enough books not allowing them to progress as fast as girls their age do.

Through my own opinion and experience I made a list of five things to do to improve the reading engagement of boys:

1. Allow them to pick their books

Discovery of books that are interesting to boys is critical to their engagement, sometimes they may not be interested in topics that their mums or teachers think are good.  If they don’t like reading classics or any specific genre, forcing them to do so will just further harm their interest in reading. They should read books that appeal to their interests- comics, fantasy fiction, action-adventure authors, mangas, humour, anything, this will get them reading and allow them the opportunity to challenge themselves and progress to read books that are more difficult. In addition, try to keep up with their interests so that more meaningful books can be selected for them.

2. Make sure they have access to books

Reading interest will drop off if a child can’t access books, causing them to just forget about them after a while. Encourage boys to always take a book out from the library and make sure they have access to one, this makes reading a habit and more of a pastime showing that it is an acceptable hobby for boys.

3.  Try to set a reading routine

As a younger boy in primary years, I used to get to read more due to a set bedtime reading routine, however as time goes this routine is lost in the humdrum of homework, sport, friends and social networks, so I think having an agreement with your boy(s) about a set time or day when reading must happen, maybe over a weekend or on a lighter day- you could set a reward or negotiate a special treat for every week they do it, hopefully, soon it would become a hobby.

4.  Engage in discussion

After reading a book, discuss it with them and ask them about what they liked and disliked, these kinds of thought-provoking discussions will help organize the child’s thought about the books and will help them form an opinion about the kind of books they like, empowering them to read more. Moreover, these will help gauge the child’s reading comprehension so that it can be assessed whether the level of books the child is reading is appropriate to contribute to growth in their reading ability. Not only does this assist the child to move onto tougher material it also shows their overall interest in books.

5.   Set goals and keep them fun (especially since it’s Christmas)

Having something to work towards, really improves a child’s engagement in anything and is a strategy used by parents and teachers so the same thing can be applied to reading. Goals like ‘read three books during these Christmas holidays’ can be fun and get them a little competitive to read a book or more. You could also try playing this fun reading game for Christmas if you are getting together with family, and get a good laugh! When reading is enjoyable, achieving goals becomes easier even if it is something like go as fast as possible.

These things have worked for me in the past and I hope these can continue to do so. Thank you.

Sumbhav M is a KS3 student in Dubai. He has read over 500 books, his all-time favourite authors are- Anthony Horowitz and Rick Riordan. Sumbhav enjoys adventure and fantasy fiction, and true to his boyhood is looking forward to exploring more non-fiction texts in the coming months.