“YOU CANNOT GET BETTER AT READING IF YOU DON’T SPEND TIME READING”
In Supporting Boys as Readers, Frank Serafini maintains that if our goal is to get young males to read and comprehend more complex material, first we have to actually get them reading. If young males are provided with reading materials that interest them, they will read.
COMPLAINTS MALES HAVE ABOUT READING IN SCHOOL
Two common complaints male students have about reading in school, are:1) not being allowed to choose what they read, and; 2) follow-up “enrichment” activities that suck the enjoyment out of whatever they have read. Serafini recommends that the primary follow-up to any personal reading should be through sharing and discussing what they have read with their friends in an enjoyable way.
SUPPORT MALES’ CHOICES IN READING MATERIAL
Supporting and encouraging their reading choices is vital. Books that young males are interested in are:
■ Focused on plot—not focused on drama and emotions
■ Visually appealing—interesting visual elements, illustrations—graphic novels, magazines
■ Purposeful—provide information readers can use
■ Readily familiar—main characters that they can easily relate to
■ Edgy—often contain controversial or contemporary issues
■ Humorous—contain a sense of mischief, slapstick
PARK YOUR BIASES
Male students often feel that their tastes and interests in reading material are not valued in the school system — even frowned upon or discouraged. Serafini suggests that teachers need to park their biases towards materials that boys enjoy, such as: informational texts about science, sports, war, fixing things, gaming, skateboarding, music, hobbies, biographies, conspiracy theories, magazines, comics, graphic novels, manga, superheroes, sci-fi, horror, humour, stories that are edgy, or controversial.
PROVIDE A WIDE VARIETY OF TEXTS
Ensure classrooms have a wide selection of fiction & informational materials and graphic books and allow daily classroom time for online or print reading for fun and discussion. When boys talk about what they are reading with their friends, they find reading more enjoyable. Sustained silent reading alone at their desk, is not necessary for boys to benefit, reading as a social activity is more successful in getting them to read.
RETHINK THE TEXTS YOU USE FOR STUDY
Serafini argues that teachers need to rethink some of the texts they use regularly and their strategies for supporting male readers, especially struggling readers. For example, teachers who spend an extended period of time on the traditional classic literature, or novel study, using books they themselves studied in high school, run the risk that their male students will “tune out,“ which makes them less likely to develop a love of reading. Teachers need to provide materials that connect with the lives of students today, and allow students to self-select materials for independent or shared study with a friend. They also need to consider using shorter texts, and informational texts, which boys prefer.
Serafini, Frank. Supporting Boys as Readers. Reading Teacher; Sep 2013, Vol. 67 Issue 1, p40-42, 3p
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