Some key points from:Supporting Boys as Readers, by F. Serafini
The Reading Teacher. Sep 2013, Vol. 67 Issue 1, p40-42, 3p
“YOU CANNOT GET BETTER AT READING IF YOU DON’T SPEND TIME READING”
In a previous post, it was noted that the EQAO, Ontario’s testing body, reports that kids who read for pleasure do better in reading and writing tests. So what can we as teachers and librarians do to get boys to read more? In Supporting Boys as Readers, Frank Serafini states that if our goal is to get boys to read and comprehend complex material, first we have to actually get them reading for fun. Serafini maintains that when school libraries and classrooms stock a variety of the types of books they want to read, boys will read.
COMPLAINTS BOYS 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. The primary follow-up to any personal reading, however, 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 boys are interested in are:
■ Focused on plot—not focused on drama and emotions
■ Visually appealing—interesting visual elements—graphic novels, manga, non-fiction with lots of illustrations, how-to books, 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 and 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, celebrities, animals,etc. magazines, comics, graphic novels, manga, superheroes, sci-fi, horror, joke books, stories that are edgy, silly, mischievous, or controversial. In the case of K-8 boys, books that involve potty-humour, pranks, farting, anti-heroes, absurd, grotesque and disgusting topics and characters are generally popular.
PROVIDE A WIDE VARIETY OF TEXTS
Libraries and classrooms need to be well-stocked with a wide selection of formats and genre: fiction & informational materials, graphic books, easy-to-read books that appeal to boys and girls, and allow daily classroom time for reading 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 suggests 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 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.
Dr. Frank Serafini is a Professor of Literacy Education and Children’s literature at Arizona State University. Published books include:The Reading Workshop, Reading Aloud and Beyond, Lessons in Comprehension, Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days and Classroom Reading Assessments, also, Interactive Comprehension Strategies: Fostering Meaningful Talk About Texts.
PDF ATTACHD: GETTING BOYS TO READ
FOLLOW THE SECTION 23 LIBRARY ON TWITTER:
ME READ? NO WAY! A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy. Ontario Ministry of Education (MoE)
ME READ? AND HOW! Ontario teachers’ report on how to improve boys’ literacy skills. Ontario Ministry of Education (MoE)
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