John Coy
John Coy
author • speaker • educator

New Reasons for Boys to Read

A study from the Center on Education Policy shows that boys’ reading performance lags behind their female peers. It's not the boys’ fault, some authors say, but the fault of books that rarely reflect boys’' lives.

Listen to guests John Coy and David Larochelle discuss this topic with Minnesota Public Radio host, Marianne Combs.


Boys and Reading

If you go into any first grade classroom in the country, there is an excitement about learning to read. The shapes on a page are like a secret code that opens up words, then sentences, and then books. And we know when books are opened up, we gain the world in a new way.

However, if you see these same students four years later, a number of them have lost interest in reading. When asked how they feel about reading, many will say they don’t like it. Some will even claim they hate reading. And of these who don’t like or hate reading, the overwhelming majority are boys.

Now consider this. If you were asked to design an educational system where you took first graders eagerness and excitement at learning to read and replaced it with indifference, dislike, even hate, could you come up with a better system than the one we have now?

By the time they get to high school, boys are reading at a significantly lower level than girls. Many are not reading anything outside of assigned schoolwork and many identify themselves as “nonreaders.”

The consequences of this are huge for the individuals involved. What college and job prospects, for example, will be available for “nonreaders?” But the consequences for us as a society are enormous. What will happen to the creativity and inventiveness that have characterized America if we have large numbers of students opting out from engagement with written words? What will these students model for their children? And how will they compete in a global economy with students from other countries who are engaged in reading?

These are questions that we need to discuss honestly and openly. Our students deserve no less.

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