Sylvia Martignani writes: Reading and Boys
Reading and Boys
I know I wrote about healthy reading practices before but now I have to explore reading specifically for parents with sons. Reading is differentiated by gender. You don’t believe me? Why do you think flashy magazines are geared towards women and brief monochromatic newspapers are geared towards men?
Women inherently need detail, glossy pictures and meaningful text while men want brevity, conciseness and relevancy. I am not sure how many time I lost myself in a fanciful romantic novel or in a rom-com (romantic comedy movie) while my husband wants non-fiction or self- help effective books. Look at the marketing of books for men and women- completely different. Everything from the picture and colours on the front cover to where the synopsis is placed and how it is worded. It is a fact that boys read differently than girls and this why you should purchase the appropriate reading materials that will engage them and stimulate them mentally.
Most boys at varying ages prefer books about animals, space, sports and superheroes. I cannot count the times parents came into my office asking if comic books counted as reading books? The answer is an absolute yes! Reading does not have to be your regularly structured novel with a beginning, middle and end. Reading is everywhere. We are surrounded with things we need to read on a daily basis. The only way your son will want to read is if you make it relevant to him.
So ask your son to read the side of the cereal box, or the advertisement on the wall. Ask your son to read the article about a sport he prefers or a comic book about a hero of his choosing. Anytime your son is exposed to any form of writing, it counts as reading.
Why is reading important?
Reading a variety of texts allows children to be introduced to new words and a wonderful array of words that can be integrated into their vocabulary. Other than being an essential life-skill, reading can assist boys later on in studying for tests and completing projects. Reading is a requirement for all subjects across the curriculum and I am sad when I hear boys tell me that they think girls are better readers.
There is no hardwiring that is readily available in girls that predisposes them towards reading. In this, both genders are truly equal. Whereas in other areas of learning one can argue that it is nature not nurture that determines success, reading is purely nurture. Studies show that boys develop reading disabilities more often than girls. As one study quotes “Overall, children with Reading Disabilities were significantly more likely to be male and be born to younger mothers” (Boy/Girl Differences in Risk for Reading Disability: Potential Clues? Jennifer L. St. Sauver 1 , Slavica K. Katusic 1 , William J. Barbaresi 2 , Robert C. Colligan 3 and Steven J. Jacobsen 1).
So what do we know so far? Educators are aware of the challenges that boys face when it is time to read. Parents have preconceived notions and an expectation that their son may not be an early reader. This is a myth and you must expose your son to all forms of texts to give him a fair chance to learn and thrive in a text heavy world. The best and wisest quote I heard was spoken by a four-year-old student at Oxford as he was referring to his younger brother who was two at the time, “I told mommy that boys are just as smart as girls because we have the same brain”. So true.
I wish you well in your educational journey of your sons and daughters and I am always here for you if you need me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and until next time,