Encouraging Our Boys to Read

Much is spoken and written about the difficulties of encouraging boys to read. For many of us, sitting our sons down with an improving novel comes way way down the list of priorities.

So for what it’s worth and with no professional qualifications in the matter whatsoever, here is what has often, but not always, worked in our family:

  • Picture books

Picture books, picture books, let me say it again, picture books.  They are fun and interactive and they take the pressure off.  Some have a fair few words in too.  We like ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book’ by Lauren Child.

  • Funny Voices

I have read Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series voicing Moonface as Derek Hatton and the Saucepan Man as Dot Cotton.  It was hard to keep up at times and sometimes Moonface became more Liam Gallagher than Derek Hatton, but it was dead funny.

  • Enid Blyton

Many literary types disapprove of Enid Byton’s books because she doesn’t use enough long words. And even as a big fan I must agree that some titles, which I can’t even bring myself to write here, have quite rightly been mothballed.  But we love her.  There’s just enough danger in her books and the children always come home safely.  And there’s usually a know-it-all or a kid who doesn’t like getting dirty to sneer at.

  • Jokes

The Mr Gum books filled a gap that nothing else would.  They are bizarre and imaginative and surreal and they provide a useful supply of ludicrous catch phrases.  There are lots of pictures amongst the text and they are quick to read.  Just remember though THE TRUTH IS A LEMON MERINGUE.

  • A Page Each

After a long day at school, the last thing you need is your naggy mother nagging you to sit and read a stupid book.  Much better if your naggy mother shares the reading with you.  It gives you chance to snuggle up to her and realise that she’s not that bad after all.

  • Know What to Avoid

In our house Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket and anything too overtly about adoption (sadly the squirrel books, although well-intentioned, are way too obvious).

  • Poems

Good for when times are really hard or the book is languishing in the drawer at school.  We like Spike Milligan.

  • Have Some Days Off

‘You must read with your child every day’ say the schools.  Don’t tell the teacher, but we don’t.  There are some days when it just ain’t gonna happen.  There are some weeks when it ain’t gonna happen.  It doesn’t matter.  Bond in front of the television instead.  We have recently bonded over The Great British Bake Off and Educating Essex (recorded of course, it’s on far too late).

  • The Dead, by Charlie Higson

This is my son’s suggestion for this list.  He is eleven.  He has fought against reading for a long time and this summer he read this book, by choice.  Result.

5 thoughts on “Encouraging Our Boys to Read”

  1. I really agree with your approach – sounds wonderfully relaxed and focussed on getting them to enjoy books, rather than learn to decode them in minute detail – what better way to get kids reading 🙂

  2. Good suggestions there – this is the second blog I’ve read recently that sings the praises of Mr Gum so I think I’ll investigate for Christmas!

    I do the taking it in turns to read with my reluctant reader – we have a deal that he has to read the first page of the chapter if he wants me to read the rest!

  3. I think your son is lucky to have you, I wish you could do a vocal blog I’d love to hear you in character ; )

  4. I was shocked to here that parents are buying their children Kindles this year for christmas or just because they want one…I feel very sad about this…firstly the enjoyment of going into a book shop and letting your children explore all the books…they will find some floor space and plonk themeselves down (even the reluctant reader in our house will find something) images have a hudge inpact and whilst technology moves along how can we snuggle up and if not read all the text enjoy the picutres and let the imagination develop!

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