The Reading Gap

Reading is one of the most important skills that children learn because it helps with all aspects of their lives.  Unfortunately, recent studies are showing that there is an increasing reading gap between boys and girls.  As each year passes, studies show that more and more boys are developing a deep dislike for reading.  This growing disdain for reading has been affecting boys in a plethora of ways, including consistently performing poorly on standardized tests across the United States.  However, the main question is, why do boys not like to read, and what can be done to remedy the issue?

Though a wide variety of young adult fiction books are published each year, Donald Gallo, a retired English professor at Central Connecticut State University, explains that many of these books are simply not geared towards boys.  In fact, fiction is not the ideal genre for boys because they tend to want to read nonfiction books.  Schools, however, require students to read classic fiction books, which pose two problems for boys.  One, the books are fiction, and most boys are not interested in fiction books, and two, the classic selections are considered boring whereas a newer age book may have potential for being more interesting.  Gallo suggests that boys need to be approached with books individually in order to assess what they like, which topics interest them, and encourage reading books that are more tailored to their interests.  Unfortunately, reading agendas for schools are not created with an individual student in mind.

However, another theory shows that boys will actually sit down and read books, but the right books are required to capture their attention.  Recent book trends show that more female writers have been dominating the young adult field, and their books showcase females as the main characters of the novels.  These books are designed and published with teenage girls in mind, and such gender specific fictional books are not exactly keeping young boys in mind.  For that reason, Jon Scieszka created, and puts up lists of books that may be more efficient at capturing a boy’s attention.  In this way, boys will be able to find books that they can sit down and enjoy, and their reading skills will slowly but surely get better.

The reading gap between boys and girls is a particularly interesting study because it provides some insight into the results of the Alliance for Positive Youth Development’s 18 and under needs assessment.  The assessment revealed that 27 out of 35 percent of responders believe problems in education to be an issue that predominantly affects boys.  After reviewing information that proves that most boys do not enjoy reading, it may be that problems in education affect many boys because their reading skills are not at the same level as girls.  Since reading is a crucial tool needed to perform well in school, boys may be struggling because they lack proper reading skills.

To learn more about pressing youth issues, and the results of the APYD Needs Assessment, register for the “State of Youth-Issues Impacting Youth Under 25” webinar.  The webinar will take place on August 31st from 2-3 pm EST.  For more information and updates, follow the APYD team @ideas4youth on twitter, like us on Facebook, or sign up for a newsletter.


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