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How to Raise Boys Who Read
Wall Street Journal ^ | September 24, 2010 | THOMAS SPENCE

Posted on 11/08/2010 7:39:06 AM PST by Immerito

How to Raise Boys Who Read Hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes.

By THOMAS SPENCE

When I was a young boy, America's elite schools and universities were almost entirely reserved for males. That seems incredible now, in an era when headlines suggest that boys are largely unfit for the classroom. In particular, they can't read.

According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, for example, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. This disparity goes back to 1992, and in some states the percentage of boys proficient in reading is now more than ten points below that of girls. The male-female reading gap is found in every socio-economic and ethnic category, including the children of white, college-educated parents.

The good news is that influential people have noticed this problem. The bad news is that many of them have perfectly awful ideas for solving it.

Everyone agrees that if boys don't read well, it's because they don't read enough. But why don't they read? A considerable number of teachers and librarians believe that boys are simply bored by the "stuffy" literature they encounter in school. According to a revealing Associated Press story in July these experts insist that we must "meet them where they are"—that is, pander to boys' untutored tastes.

For elementary- and middle-school boys, that means "books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor." AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to "grossology" parties. "Just get 'em reading," she counsels cheerily. "Worry about what they're reading later."

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Education; Reference; Society
KEYWORDS: boys; education; reading
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1 posted on 11/08/2010 7:39:08 AM PST by Immerito
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To: Immerito

Homeschool him.


2 posted on 11/08/2010 7:39:56 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: Immerito

Like I always tell my wife, “Reading is for sissies.”

/ONLY kidding


3 posted on 11/08/2010 7:41:15 AM PST by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (is a Jim DeMint Republican. You might say he's a funDeMintalist conservative.)
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To: Immerito
If you read to your children and show them that you read, then they will read. Nothing works better than role modeling!

Mike

4 posted on 11/08/2010 7:43:02 AM PST by MichaelP (It's a start!!!)
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To: Immerito

very well written article. The solution he gives (of minimizing or eliminating electronic media like video games from the house) is very, very apt and correct.


5 posted on 11/08/2010 7:45:04 AM PST by Cronos (This Church is Holy,theOne Church,theTrue Church,theCatholic Church - St. Augustine)
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To: Immerito
I read constantly so the kids have always been exposed to books and magazines. My husband and I read to the kids when they were little and then had them read to us.

We keep our 10YO son reading by getting him his own magazine subscription. He informed us he is too old for "baby magazines" so he now gets Sporting News in the mail. He loves sports so this enourages his reading - and he's reading on a bit higher level.

6 posted on 11/08/2010 7:47:05 AM PST by ninergold3 (Let Go and Let God - He IS In Control)
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To: goodwithagun

Yes, homeschool him and then make available the Great Literature — Homer, Dickens, Shakespeare. Read aloud as a family, too. That way they can grasp vocabulary beyond their years.


7 posted on 11/08/2010 7:47:25 AM PST by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: goodwithagun
Homeschool him.

I did!

8 posted on 11/08/2010 7:48:49 AM PST by Calm_Cool_and_Elected ("Stupidity is always astonishing, no matter how many times you may deal with it." - Jean Cocteau)
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To: Immerito

What have you got, another six weeks of WSJ issues stacked up, still to plow through?


9 posted on 11/08/2010 7:48:59 AM PST by 9YearLurker
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: Immerito

Read what, exactly? When liberals talk about reading they mean liberal tripe. When I was a kid of about 10 years old and got into Ayn Rand I was discouraged doing so by the librarian, my teachers, and even my siblings (Yes, they are horribly liberal). I read the books anyway and learned far more about the world than my sisters reading Nancy Drew.


12 posted on 11/08/2010 7:49:20 AM PST by CodeToad (Islam needs to be banned in the US and treated as a criminal enterprise.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

My son always had his nose in a book , but then he was always grounded and reading was pretty much the only thing he could do .


13 posted on 11/08/2010 7:49:48 AM PST by katykelly
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To: Immerito
I haven't read the article, but for me (now 62), I loved to read the unusual .. Sci-Fi type stuff.

I loved Bradbury and Ellison and a bunch of authors I don't remember.

I'm not sure you can technique your way into a boy's mind and develope a desire to read.

I think there is some genetics involved with the ability to "see" with words and to have an imagination that allows that sight or vision to be transformed into a thought pattern.

Donning double layer tinfoil now and my kitties are all around me for protection.

14 posted on 11/08/2010 7:50:55 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: Immerito

Give him a set of Heinlein’s juvenile SF novels and a bunch of Louis L’Amour and step aside. If he can resist rocket ships, he probably can’t resist cowboys, so you’re covered.


15 posted on 11/08/2010 7:51:31 AM PST by JenB
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To: Immerito

I let mine stay up as long as they liked ...if they were reading


16 posted on 11/08/2010 7:51:35 AM PST by fml
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To: CodeToad

Read what, exactly?

That is a private matter between the parents of the child and the child-—the child to discover his/her reading preferences, and the parents to set boundaries, as needed, by which the child may indulge those preferences and to encourage the child to broaden his literary horizons the same way they broaden his culinary horizons.


17 posted on 11/08/2010 7:51:42 AM PST by Immerito
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To: fml

Sounds like a good plan. Are they still voracious readers today?


18 posted on 11/08/2010 7:52:48 AM PST by Immerito
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To: ninergold3

For some reason, I just do not see sports magazines equated with higher level reading...


19 posted on 11/08/2010 7:53:01 AM PST by stefanbatory (Insert witty tagline here)
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To: Immerito

Yes. I am proud to say all three are.


20 posted on 11/08/2010 7:55:27 AM PST by fml
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To: fml

If my kids are reading, they can stay up late. If they’re reading, I will unload the dishes or do whatever else it was I was about to have them do. My girl reads 1,000 books a day. The boy not as much but still quite a bit.


21 posted on 11/08/2010 7:57:46 AM PST by Doctor 2Brains (If the government were Paris Hilton, it could not score a free drink in a bar full of lonely sailors)
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To: Immerito
Responsible parents have a profound effect, but I think there's also something in one's DNA that has an influence too.
My youngest son always hated to read, never did, yet today, is a high school math teacher who barely had to study.
Meanwhile, his older brother would read three books a week, barely got the everyday math, yet today, teaches high school history & English.
22 posted on 11/08/2010 7:58:21 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Immerito

I recently read a review of a Freddy the Pig book. Some of this series is back in reprint and they seem to get boys (maybe girls also) interested in reading. There is also a Freddy the Pig fan club for youngsters.


23 posted on 11/08/2010 7:58:34 AM PST by apocalypto
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To: Doctor 2Brains

My kids would have preferred you over me.;) I didn’t let them skip chores.


24 posted on 11/08/2010 8:02:59 AM PST by fml
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To: JenB

Kipling’s poems, too. They are funny and very instructional, too.


25 posted on 11/08/2010 8:03:04 AM PST by Little Ray (The Gods of the Copybook Heading, with terror and slaughter return!)
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To: goodwithagun

I homeschool my 12 year old, I have forf the last 2 years. He absolutly hates to read..we have tried almost eveything to get him to read. I have read to both my kids since they were babies, and he seems to like when we read together as a family. He can read..just hates it. So I am going to go with post #6, and get him a subscription to something that interests him.


26 posted on 11/08/2010 8:04:06 AM PST by kacres
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To: Doctor 2Brains

One thing that I have found gets kids interested is to read them the book or story that was transformed almost beyond recognition by the movie industry (take Pinocchio or Bambi, for instance).

When you get to the part where Pinocchio....well, I won’t spoil what happens within the first 20 pages. :-)


27 posted on 11/08/2010 8:06:57 AM PST by Immerito
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To: fml

Oh, they LOVE me. I’m very much a Felix Unger type. I hardly ever let them do chores because their performance will never satisfy me. You know how it is — they move a glass from the machine to the drying towel and a drop of water falls to the floor. Can’t have that, you know.


28 posted on 11/08/2010 8:07:07 AM PST by Doctor 2Brains (If the government were Paris Hilton, it could not score a free drink in a bar full of lonely sailors)
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To: apocalypto

I remember reading my daughter a book about a little boy who had no interest in reading at school. (Actually it was a book about the cat who lived at the bookstore. True story from Maine BTW) So his mother took him to the book store, where he finds a book about soccer, his favorite pastime. Eureka, boys will read books about subjects they are interested in.

....so do girls re: cats


29 posted on 11/08/2010 8:07:31 AM PST by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: MichaelP
If you read to your children and show them that you read, then they will read. Nothing works better than role modeling!

Exactly. My wife and I read with and to both kids when they were little. Also I never said no to them if they wanted a book. I read constantly myself and our house is filled with books. Both my kids(1 daughter, 1 son) are avid readers.

30 posted on 11/08/2010 8:08:32 AM PST by lawdave
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To: Immerito

Step 1: Turn off the television.


31 posted on 11/08/2010 8:09:34 AM PST by tacticalogic
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To: latina4dubya

ping


32 posted on 11/08/2010 8:09:56 AM PST by scripter ("You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." - C.S. Lewis)
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To: goodwithagun

My ten-year-old son is the most gun-crazy kid I’ve ever known, and I’ve known a few. I think he would rather sit and shoot pop cans with his .22 than eat. He’s an outdoorsy, kinetic kid who plays soccer, loves to hunt, fish, hike, and camp, and he’s the last kid in the world you’d expect to see with his nose in a book.

Not long after he started sounding out words, I introduced him to adventure stories... Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, even Louis L’Amour westerns. Now he reads himself to sleep every night, and dreams of hunting elk and mountain lions.


33 posted on 11/08/2010 8:13:49 AM PST by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: Doctor 2Brains

I am more like a cheater housekeeper. Looking clean is as good as being clean. I could write a book of cheats. #1, teach the kids to do it and when it’s half baked, blame them :)


34 posted on 11/08/2010 8:15:28 AM PST by fml
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To: Immerito

Turn off the TV.
Turn off the video games
Read aloud to your toddlers from day one. Every day a book.

Into amazon.com type in the follwing words:

“Backyard Ballistics”. It will give back a one year reading list for boys.

“The dangerous book for boys” will return a two or three year reading list for boys.

There are a lot of books that are geared for boys now.

Science Fiction is all good for guys. Thousands of titles to choose from and much of it is terrific writing.

It is just that easy.


35 posted on 11/08/2010 8:17:06 AM PST by texmexis best
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To: Immerito

One other thing:

if your son insists on reading under the covers with a flashlight, hassle him just enough to make him think that he is getting away with something special.


36 posted on 11/08/2010 8:19:08 AM PST by texmexis best
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To: Immerito

I’m afraid the author is either mistaken, or very fortunate. Not even a complete absence of electronics from the house—no Playstation or XBox, no computer games, not even a functional TV—will force a kid to start reading. I read to my kids from the time they came home from the hospital. We have thousands of fascinating books in our house, my children see me reading constantly, there are books and good magazines on every table and in every room except possibly the dining room, every bedroom has a bookcase or two. And no dice. My 16-year-old son has exactly ONE book he likes to read; my daughter doesn’t read for pleasure at all, except for Vogue. It amazes me.


37 posted on 11/08/2010 8:20:35 AM PST by ottbmare (off-the-track Thoroughbred mare)
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To: massgopguy

I agree! Boys will not like Fancy Nancy or Strawberry Shortcake. When I was in the children’s section at the local bookstore, most books appeared to be oriented to girls.


38 posted on 11/08/2010 8:23:24 AM PST by apocalypto
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Comment #39 Removed by Moderator

To: Immerito
Check out some of Theodore Dalrymple's books on this and other topics...."Our Culture, What's Left of It", for instance, or "Life at the Bottom", they are amazing.

As a British physician, Dalrymple cites cases of treating victims of brutal beatings by teens who did nothing more than score well on tests. For some reason in the U.K. it is cool to fail, anyone bucking the peer group gets savaged. Reading his works will make you despair for our education system.

40 posted on 11/08/2010 8:30:51 AM PST by CanaGuy (Go Harper! We still love you!)
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To: CanaGuy

American media presents the notion of it being “cool to fail” as well. Teachers and other authority figures are mocked, the protagonist who gets low grades is misunderstood (if the teachers REALLY knew that he/she was a secret dragon/crime fighter, what have you....)

American television has gone way down hill from even twenty years ago.


41 posted on 11/08/2010 8:36:20 AM PST by Immerito
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To: tacticalogic

Yep, I agree with that!


42 posted on 11/08/2010 8:45:25 AM PST by Immerito
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To: Immerito

Why don’t boys read? Because it’s all by design - there is a master plan.


43 posted on 11/08/2010 8:50:37 AM PST by Mandingo Conservative (Satan was like the first "community organizer", just ask Eve, the first liberal useful idiot!)
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To: Immerito

I recently saw a 3rd grade “reader” from the 30’s ..that reader had actual science and history articles and stories in it...no sappy easy reading.. I would guess it would be a 5th grade or later reader today .

Most college students today can not read the The Federalist Papers with any level of understanding . they were written for farmers with limited formal education to read.

Thanks to the TV, and vidio games we are raising a generation of idiots


44 posted on 11/08/2010 8:56:05 AM PST by RnMomof7 (Gal 4:16 asks "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?")
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To: Calm_Cool_and_Elected

I teach public school, yet I plan on homeschooling my son. He is two so obviously “schooling” has already begun. I’ve just recently started telling my colleagues that I’m planning on homeschooling. You should see the looks I get!


45 posted on 11/08/2010 9:04:14 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: Immerito
Younger boys love Richard Scarry books; Thomas and friends; books about dinosaurs; sharks. Good way to get them started to like to read.
46 posted on 11/08/2010 9:11:40 AM PST by Jane Austen (Boycott the Philadelphia Eagles!)
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To: Doctor 2Brains

I wish you were my dad!

I was and am a voracious reader, but I always had to get books in between the chores. And staying up late to read books? He would come down if he figured out that the lights were still on.


47 posted on 11/08/2010 9:21:36 AM PST by BenKenobi
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To: Immerito

The ongoing Stupid People, also known as the masters of schmart, continue to be too smart by half, the same ones who brought you these problems now making up more stupid ways to make the matter worse claiming an all new well known insight...

Solution:

First and foremost; Clarify to every parent, child and student throughout life, their future, wellbeing, and monetary value is dependent upon their knowledge, skills, ability and competitive placement; not as a social convenience or the feel-good-ism of pop-culture!

Second; Government Education must establish and enforce a rigorous national education policy beginning at Kindergarten through High school (K – 12) based on classical reading, writing, math, history, United States Constitution, natural science, computer sciences, and basic foundation of social-sciences (to be expanded upon after third year upper-level college courses).

Third, hold all children back when unable to progress through a grade.

Fourth, every business can establish competitively discriminatory hiring practices which can exclude anyone not holding a High school/GED all the way up to Bachelors degree.

Fifth, create a school voucher system, at 50% of government education value to let families manage their own education.

Sixth, …


48 posted on 11/08/2010 9:50:17 AM PST by ntmxx (I am not so sure about their misdirection!)
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To: Immerito
"Just get 'em reading," she counsels cheerily. "Worry about what they're reading later."

.......Ummmmmmmmmm, no.

There's plenty of good stuff to read out there for boys. Nose-picking jokes are fine, in small quantities. But, steady diet of them is no better for a kid than a steady diet of chips and soda.

However, I make the assumption that the parents actually read, themselves. And Care. It's shocking, to me, of the number people's houses (friends, family, co-workers) that I go into and find nothing more substantial to read than "People" magazine.

Mrs WBill and I could stock a medium-sized library. Not everyone can go to that extreme.....but library cards (at least locally for me) are free.

49 posted on 11/08/2010 9:56:04 AM PST by wbill
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To: ninergold3
He informed us he is too old for "baby magazines" so he now gets Sporting News in the mail

I used to get "Baseball Digest" at that age. Read the print right off the pages. It was 90% stories/news and not much for pictures. Good content. Same company put out "Basketball Digest", "Auto Racing Digest", etc if Baseball isn't your son's bag.

No idea if it's still appropriate, it's been a long time since I was 10. :-)

50 posted on 11/08/2010 10:00:11 AM PST by wbill
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