It is a widely held
view that most boys do not like to read. The question is why don't they
enjoy reading? Why don't they see it as a form of entertainment? Or do
they? The fact is that many boys do like reading for fun, they simply do
not like reading in a classroom setting (Worthy, 1998). Reluctant readers,
he feels, are a term that really only applies in the classroom. “None
of the boys had a dislike for literacy, they only rejected school literacy.”(Hyatt,
2002) Worthy noted that when his son is not in school he loves reading,
and observed him participate in several in-depth conversations, analysing
a book, and sometimes an author (Worthy, 1998). At home, children have
a choice of what to read, albeit comics, or even speciality magazines.
In school, however, children are restricted by what teachers believe constructive
literature is (Hyatt, 2002).
Nonfiction books need to be regarded as reading materials, not only fiction (Simmons, 2002). Simmons studied a Reading Incentive Program, where the students of the school could only read fiction. When the students were polled, the book selection could also include nonfiction. The result: the same number of boys and girls received reading certificates(Simmons, 2002).
One way to motivate children, boys in particular, is to have a variety of books available in the classroom, and the library. Most articles that I have researched have concluded that a wide variety of books are needed in order to get the young boys motivated and interested in reading (Sabesta, 2002, Scieszka, 2002,Sokal, 2002, Simmons, 2002, Worthy, 1998, Hyatt, 2002, Blake, 1998, Bauer, 2002). They feel that the reading selection should not be limited. Changing the book selection in schools is not easy, however, because many books come from donations, and mainly because of the limited funds available to teachers(Singh, 1998). Unfortunately, this leaves libraries with a limited selection of books which might interest boys (Sokal, 2002). This draws attention to masculinities, and the question of what is a boy? (Richmond and Miles, 2002)
Many of the books available sometimes do not appeal to several boys. Many traditional books, which remain in the libraries, depict boys in stereotypical roles (ie: sports). Some boys cannot meet the standards which are portrayed to them, making them feel inadequate(Sokal, 2002). These books are portraying boys as energetic, accomplishing many tasks at once, leaving the girls as homemakers, and nurses(Love, 1993). This, will create a narrow passage for the children to see through, and perhaps they will conform to those gender biases, and how they should act in what society has created, later in life (Love, 1993, Singh, 1998).
Some children find it
difficult to connect with a book, not only because of gender stereotypes,
but also because of the portrayal of cultures. Ethnic children find it
hard to relate to most books, for the majority are based around White anglo-Saxon
middle class characters. When this happens, ethnic children find the book
boring, cannot relate their life experiences to those books, and interest
is lost (Blake, 1998).
It is felt that teachers need to become more aware of the variety of books that are available and make multiethnic texts more easily available to their students. They are becoming more readily available to the public, but teachers have to know as much as they can about different cultures and the literature that they read. If this is not accomplished, it is feared that the children will become discouraged, which could limit their future possibilities(Shuman, 1993).
It is apparent from the annotated bibliography that boys are drawn to more than one particular genre (Fisher, 2001). Fisher had noted that boys even enjoyed reading poetry, although their reason differed from that of a girl. Unfortunately, what some boys like to read may not be available in their school system, such as comics, magazines, and fantasy (Worthy1998, Hyatt, 2002, Bauer, 2002). It was also reported that many boys and girls enjoy reading biographies, although they do prefer popular biographies of such people as singers and popular sports heroes(Gunning, 2000). Gunning also felt that students like non-popular subjects if the teacher selected interesting people who have helped shape the world, and children are able to see their accomplishments in the world around them (Gunning 2000).
There is also attention called to multiethnic texts to keep the children interested (Blake, 1998, Enciso, 1994). By having these texts available, students are able to discover various cultures, beliefs, and perhaps religions, which could spark an interest in children while helping to dismantle cultural biases (Enciso, 1994). Enciso feels this is important. During the study of Maniac Magee, one child felt that the African American boy only had a chocolate bar because he stole it. Enciso feels that responses like this could be related to the “teachers’ cultural biases.” Therefore, when analysing a book, the teacher has to remain neutral and analyse only what is in the book (Enciso, 1994).
It is felt that boys should be encouraged to read whatever they choose. They seem to enjoy short chapters, humour and sometimes gross stories. Children should read what they want, not what others would like them to read (Getting Guys to Read, 2002).
Too often, reading is regarded as feminine due to the fact that most children enter the schooling system and find that a majority of the educators and librarians are female (Getting guys to read, 2002, Sokal, 2002). It is also possible that regarding reading as feminine could have started in the home. Most often the mother spends the majority of the time with the children, which implies that reading is not what a “man” does. Unfortunately this can set the foundation to reading (Sokal, 2002). As a result of having so much female influence in the early stages of a child’s life, educators feel that having male figures in the class will help increase not only reading, but also reading various genres.
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