Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting Boys to Read

You gotta love the AP headline: "Boys trail girls in reading; can fart jokes help?"

The topic -- boys' lack of interest in reading -- isn't a new one to readers of this blog. Neither is the solution, which is to "meet boys where they are" -- fancy psycho-speak for "capitalize on their interests." Boys, in general, respond to shorter bursts of non-fiction text. If the material is funny, all the better.

But boys, like all humans, are complex creatures, and their interests, believe it or not, do extend beyond fart jokes. My boys absolutely loved Captain Underpants, Walter the Farting Dog and Diary of a Wimpy Kid -- but they also enjoyed Hatchet, a Newbery Honor-winning novel. And Boy #1 just finished a book about German POW camps in Wisconsin.

My best boy-related reading advice? Keep a variety of reading materials around the house. Picture books, comic books, novels and non-fiction tomes are great, but so are magazines and newspapers. My oldest loves to thumb through our local paper; Boy #2 like to check out the headlines and photos on the Sunday sports page. They've become big magazine fans, a fact which cheers this magazine writer's heart. Current favorites include:

Boys' Life


Sports Illustrated

Musky Hunter

BMX Plus!

What magazines do your boys enjoy?


  1. My 8 yo boy likes Popular Mechanics. I don't know if most would or not.

  2. My boys get Beckett's Massive Online Gamer, and Scooby Doo Comics.

  3. The Monster of all Quarterly? Magazines - The Lego Magazine! Read cover to cover in less time that I can get the grocery bags out of the car - the only time they are not begging to carry in groceries so they get first dibs on the ice cream. :)
    Madlibs, Garfield and Diary of a Wimpy Kid litter the floor next to my son's bed.

  4. I sooooooo agree with you -- on so many counts. Creating a reading environment, with variety, is so important.

    Mine loved Popular Mechanics, then graduated to car magazines in their mid-teens.

  5. You know, I have never been able to interest my boys in magazines. I tried Highlights, Ranger Rick and Kids Discover. I picked out things from the library I thought they might find interesting. No luck.

    Recently I noticed that my 11 year old liked to look at National Geographic when we were at dentist appointments, so we have subscribed to that. He mostly enjoys looking at the pictures and reading the captions, but it has started some good conversations. (I tried the National Geographic for Kids and was disappointed with all the ads and clutter - not that the adult version doesn't have ads, but it doesn't seem so busy to me.)

    My boys are both avid readers, Artemis Fowl, Ranger's Apprentice, Bartimaeus, and The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel being the current favorites.

    I think Popular Mechanics might be a good one to try out, especially for my younger one. Thanks.

  6. Lego magazine and the Little Coin Catalog (lol!) We are also enjoying Jeff Smith's Bone series.

  7. Great ideas here. I think I'm going to have to check out Lego magazine and Popular Mechanics.

  8. I just uploaded an audio interview with Bart King, the author of The Big Book of Gross Stuff -

  9. Thanks for all this great info. I'm going to buy Popular Mechanics for my middle boy!

  10. Great blog. Very well done! Keep up the great work! Hopefully one day soon your oldest will read my memoir - Its got it all, Navy stuff, wrestling stuff, bullies, even girls!

    All the best -

    John W. Quinn
    Author of Someone Like Me - An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy

  11. Comics are awesome for kids. They are about heroes doing what is right, stretch the imagination, and help foster a sense of adventure.

    Check out the local library. The Fond du Lac one has a ton of graphic novels (which cover story lines in various comics), and individual issues. I'm 36 and my love of comics never faltered since childhood. Finding that the library had them last year, had me feeling like a kid all over again.

  12. yes, exactly. Even if they don't gravitate to something, just being there, they'll pick it up and page through. We have a HUGE coffee table for the sole purpose of holding books on it.