Creating a Passion for Reading in Preschool Boys

As a parent of a son and two daughters and a former teacher, I have seen first-hand the differences between enticing boys to read vs. girls. Even in preschool the differences are striking. Girls tend to read better than boys. And research supports this: by fourth grade, girls worldwide score significantly higher on literacy measures than boys.

Why is this? One of the best clues comes from boys themselves. One study surveying teenage boys on their obstacles to reading reported that nearly 40 percent found reading to be boring. An additional 40 percent of these boys reported they did not have time to read or found other activities to be more fun.

So how do we get boys to read better? Simple. We need to get boys excited about reading. We need to make reading a fun habit. It is critical that early childhood educators promote reading in a way that boys will gravitate to read on their own for fun. The more boys like reading, the more they will read. And the more they read, the better they will get.

Here are some quick tips to put your boys on track to read more and better:

1. Provide lots of choices. 

Many of my teachers tried to “force-feed” me with “Classics,” and I showed about as much interest as my wife paying full price for clothes at a department store. However, I memorized statistics on the backs of football cards, and I would read anything I could get my hands on about sports, dinosaurs and rocks. It does not matter what you read; it only matters how much you read.

2. Read aloud…a lot. 

You are the most important salesperson on the planet. You have the ability to attract or sour a boy’s interest in reading forever. So make your read alouds an event. Try out silly voices. Encourage boys to mimic the movements of characters. And read aloud throughout the day.

3. Read in front of boys. 

Kids aren’t stupid. They watch everything we do, so if you want your boys to read, you need them to “catch you” reading as much as possible. Make a point of sharing with them what you are reading, from John Grisham novels to Sports clippings to Internet articles.

Of course, this is just a starting point. My best advice to early educators is to always remember that interest drives reading. We live in an “edutainment” age where children are accustomed to highly interactive and entertaining experiences. Hardcovers of Peter Rabbit don’t cut it anymore. It’s your job as an early childhood educator, though, to facilitate a reading environment that is so alluring that eventually boys who avoided Classics cannot wait to spend an afternoon lost behind a great book.

Known as “Jim Carrey with a Ph.D.,” Dr. Danny Brassell is an internationally-acclaimed keynote speaker and author of 15 books, including Read, Lead & Succeed: 50 Simple Ways to Produce Extraordinary Results in Business and Life.