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My boys just won’t pick up a book to read, unless it is for schoolwork. They want to play video games and watch whatever is new on streaming.
I grew up with a book in my hand, and one in my bag ready to be read. I understand that kids are different, and not everyone likes to read, but I also believe that readers are leaders, and vice-versa. The more you know, the more knowledge you have on a variety of subjects, the farther you will go.
So how do you ingrain this way of thinking into boys’ minds?
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I am a real bookworm, and so one of my goals has been to encourage a love of reading in both my daughter and my son. Boys and reading can present a bit of a challenge as they are often less likely to want to sit still and focus on a story and would much rather be running around, playing, or interacting with a game.
When my son was around 10 years old we went to a fascinating presentation by an educational psychologist and one part of her talk was about how to engage boys and girls who are not enthusiastic readers. Her comment was that for many of us, we were taught that our kids should be reading chapter books and that illustrated books and comic books were somehow inferior to books that were all words with no pictures. We were advised to allow our children to read what appealed to them and that included comic books and graphic novels. Our kids are growing up in a digital age where they see a lot of visual imagery. If books with pictures are going to get your kid reading, I say go for it!
Also, even as an adult, I will sometimes enjoy a read that is targeted to a young adult audience and my daughter and I have read a number of book series simultaneously. Don't prescribe what level your child should read at - let them find a topic or genre they enjoy and provide plenty of suggestions to give them choices at all reading levels.
Finally, remember that kids are also curious and that sometimes they may prefer non-fiction books. My son was obsessed with ancient Egypt at one stage and every library book for months was all about that topic before his attention was diverted by something new.
This seems to be the question of this generation of boys. Girls may have a better ability to step away from technology and play independently.
Could this be why boys are having more trouble "launching" as young adults than girls? Is it because boys are not learning the skills to work out problems in today's world and enjoy what nature and "real" people have to offer due to too much time in the virtual realm?
So you are wise to have concerns and seek advice in this area.
With a gaggle of boys in our family, we deal with this same struggle. I have found that establishing guidelines for the number of hours they can have screen time helps. But we have to stick to our guns; otherwise, they try to weasel in extra time whenever they can to play on their devices.
Simply removing devices (sometimes dragging it from their hands) ends the tug of war.
Turn off, get up and get out of the house is a mantra that needs to be repeated over and over again. We also explain why too much screen time is terrible and why exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are necessary for wellness. Once they are up and moving, the fog seems to clear, and they happily engage in other activities.
I try to read in front of them. Even if they are doing something else and I have a million other things to do, I'll sit down and show them I'm making a choice to read. And now they remember they have that choice, too.
We also take trips to the library together with the intent on going home and sitting together to read our books.
I find my kids really love to read at night right before bed and trying to get them to do it other times is when it requires more effort. But I'll take it and I hope they grow to love it more and do it more.
I got my kid into reading at a young age by reading to him every night. I read him more than just picture books. I did Charlottes Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then we read the whole Harry Potter series. It was very time consuming but absolutely worth it. He didn't have a choice, really, but he also took to it very well. I think I introduced him to enough great stories that he saw the merits of books at an early age.
He's now 12 and is into reading the Hunger Games series and Percy Jackson on his own so it makes me so happy that those series have multiple books and can keep him busy for days. That said, would he probably rather be on a screen? Sure. I get it. I do too even though I'm an avid reader myself. Screens are cool. But because he has a built in love for reading, when I tell him to shut off the screen and go read, I get zero push back.
But if you didn't start your kids early, it's ok! There's still time! Maybe start them off on graphic novels or something a little scary (kids horror fiction was MY gateway), anything that they might be interested in, I promise there's a book series about it. teach them about the joy of reading and they won't think twice.