Assignment Education: Boys and Books


Getting boys to grab hold of books and reading is a focus of educators at West Salem Elementary School.

"We've made a really big effort to get more non-fiction in our library; make sure there is more non-fiction in our classrooms; make sure that the read out louds at the early level have a balance of fiction and non-fiction," said Ros Krajewski, West Salem School District reading specialist.

That's because recent publications written for education professionals indicate our society has feminized elementary education causing boys to lose interest in reading. To help reverse this trend, library media specialists at West Salem Elementary School decided to bring in a children's author.

"We wanted our focus to be on reaching those boys that are a little bit reluctant about reading," said Mary Hundt, library media specialist at West Salem Elementary. "How can we get them excited. We definitely wanted a male and Tony just fit the bill."

Tony is children's author Tony Abbott... writer of many different book series including his most popular The Secrets of Droon. His audience includes all elementary-aged students, but the male lead character and fantasy story in The Secrets of Droon is attracting a lot of boys.

"What I realized when I was growing up was the stories that really attracted me where the stories that started with a bang," said author Tony Abbott. "There was adventure. There was excitement. There was something that drew you right into the story. Even if you weren't the best reader, you could get right into the story."

The Secret's of Droon series has inspired some boys to start reading. But if your son isn't interested in this series, the key is to figure out what he is interested in.

"Boys definitely like books with male characters," said Hundt. "They like things that are not too lengthy. They like comic books, graphic novels, mystery books, ghost stories."

Being aware of boys' interests and making sure there is a balance of books in school libraries and classrooms is only half the battle. Having a role model is the other half.

"Boys really need to see that the males that they look up to value reading,"said Krajewski.

An observation that will keep them from being bound by the stigma that curling up with a book is a girl thing.

Here are some ways that Dad can be a good role model at home: Take a look at who is reading to their kids at night. Is Dad reading or does Mom always do it? Who takes the kids to the library? And are the male role models talking and getting excited about what they read.

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