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How to encourage boys to read

Boys are impatient (every girl knows that!) – and if learning to read takes too long, then they will write it off as too hard to bother with.

Well, all right, girls can be impatient too, but I think as a general rule, boys may be rather keener to get things done more quickly than girls.

In fact, in my experience this tends to be the most common reason why boys are known for not reading as well as girls. People generally accept that boys are naturally more reluctant to read and that ‘boys will be boys’, but I don’t accept this as a general rule at all. If the reading method that is being used works quickly enough and boys can clearly see their rapid progress, then a boy will learn to read much more willingly. Not only that but he is much more likely to read of his own accord and really enjoy it. We’ve seen it time and time again.

There will always be a time when a boy doesn’t feel like reading so here are some easy ways to encourage a boy to read.

  • Give him your undivided attention. Every boy likes to feel he is being properly listened to with nothing else getting in the way, as do we all! Make him feel appreciated and tell him that you enjoy spending time with him, that these moments are special to you because you love his company.
  • Promise him it will be for no longer than 5-10 minutes – and stick to your promise.
  • Make it fun. Laugh through a book with him, put some emotion into the reading and it will capture his attention more readily. Real learning is only embedded if emotion is there too.
  • Don’t be afraid to teach him the word without breaking it down into phonics. Phonics shouldn’t be ignored but it does slow down actual reading progress at first. He will pick up phonics later but for many children it does work better as a ‘second stage’ of literacy once general reading skill has been mastered, as a decoding tool of more difficult words.
  • Make the process of learning to read competitive. Reward him with treats and stickers as a ‘badge of honour’ every time you think he has done well.
  • Point out words he knows in everyday things, like cereal boxes, in newspapers, on the boxes of his toys. If he can see why reading is useful in real life, he will be more willing to apply himself to learning.
  • Choose a reading scheme that works really quickly, to get boys excited as they can clearly see how far they have come. Well, we would say that, wouldn’t we…!)


Next: How to keep momentum going if your child’s confidence flags >>


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