Blogs About Reading
Connected: Digital Literacy for Gen Z
Dr. Julie Wood
Julie M. Wood, a former public school teacher and reading specialist, is a nationally recognized educational consultant with a special interest in digital learning tools. Join Julie in 2012 as she shares best practices in using educational technology and media in the classroom and at home.
Getting boys hooked on reading: How can digital media help?
Did you know that boys often underestimate their ability to read? That boys, on average, read less than girls? And that boys are often less motivated to read than girls? Not only that: By the time boys reach high school, roughly half of them will describe themselves as "nonreaders."
Several theories may explain why these facts are true. It may be that boys have a different cognitive style than girls, preferring action-oriented activities rather than more traditional classroom tasks. It may have to do with what boys see as a lack of personal choice in reading materials. Research also suggests that many boys view reading and writing as the province of girls. Left to their own devices, they often distance themselves from books and writing assignments that don't grab them. For more on these theories, see the enlightening article by first-grade teacher Nicole Senn titled "Effective Approaches to Motivate and Engage Reluctant Boys in Literacy" in the November 2012 issue of The Reading Teacher.
So. Where does this leave us? What can we do to entice boys to read and write? And how can digital media help?
We can begin by giving boys more choices about what they read. Boys often like action, adventure, and (sometimes outrageous or salty) humor. They also enjoy nonfiction topics that relate to their lives — animals, cars and trucks, and exciting weather events — to name a few.
Given that most boys love digital devices (right along with girls), iBooks and eBooks offer new ways to capture their interest. Look for titles with high boy-appeal and invite students to choose the books they want to read. Six-year-olds, for example, might enjoy the iBook app version of The Magic School Bus: Oceans (Scholastic, $7.99). Older boys might be captivated by the digital version of the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stein, via Scholastic's digital eReading app called Storia (see Scholastic for information on pricing).
What about boys and writing? If the boys in your life enjoy comic books, introduce them to tools that can help them create and narrate their own comic books. One excellent choice is the "Monsters Vs. Superheroes" app by Duck Duck Moose, for five-year-olds and up. (Note the companion product, "Princess Fairy Tale Maker.") For younger boys (four-year-olds and up), try the "Draw and Tell" app by the same company. It's also fun, but simpler in design ($1.99 for each of these apps).
Also, check out one of my favorite websites, Guys Read. Created by the popular children's author, Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, and many more delightful picture books), this site is hard to resist. Take a few minutes to browse the various book genres together, such as "Ghosts," "Cars, Trucks, Etc.," and "At Least One Explosion." You might also explore the "For Little Guys" section, which offers a great collection of mini-book reviews.
What strategies have YOU used to encourage the boys in your life to read and write? Have you found any media products and/or websites to be particularly helpful? Share your ideas!
In writing this blog post I drew upon the thoughtful reviews posted on Common Sense Media.