A Love of Reading is Key to Success for Boys says Pam Withers, author of ‘Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life’
Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
This new book, Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life is blowing me away. My little boy who is going into first grade doesn’t want to read. If we don’t encourage him to love it now, we’re setting him up for a difficult academic career. Wow. Just wow. I asked author Pam Withers to tell me more. Read her brilliant tips below–you can start doing them with your boy right now.
KK: What are the main concerns about today’s boys?
PW: The gender literacy gap (in girls’ favor) is growing worldwide. Some 40 percent of boys are reluctant readers, which leads them to become underachievers in general.
KK: How have issues for boys changed?
PW: Boys are slipping in reading ability at a time when reading ability has skyrocketed in importance for long-term success in life.
KK: How can we prepare our little boys to be happy and successful?
PW: 1. Read with or to him for at least 15 minutes per day. This can more than triple his reading improvement each month.
2. Let him fidget while you read; it can actually help with his focus: LEGOs, play dough, art, acting out the book and even jumping on a trampoline.
3. If there are three or more words per page that he doesn’t understand, trade the book in for an easier reader.
4. Let him hold the book and turn the pages.
5. Limit screen time (none for under age 2, two hours daily maximum after that); let him “earn” extra screen time by reading.
6. Hire a neighborhood boy to read to him. With just 15 hours of reading-buddy contact, one group gained the equivalent of 2 1/2 years in reading abilities.
7. Keep reading to him even after he can read by himself.
8. Pre-select books that might interest him (esp. with male protagonists), place them in a basket and let him choose.
9. Create “whisper phones” from plastic piping in hardware stores, and read to your son with your lips at one end of the tube and his ear at the other.
10. Watching shows with captions on the screen (e.g. Manga cartoons) can improve reading skills.
11. Avoid comparing one sibling to another for reading skills; it encourages put-downs when you’re not around.
12. Try taping your son as he reads at the beginning of the school year, and then again near the end of the school year. He’ll hear his improvement and feel a surge of confidence and initiative to continue improving.
13. Studies show that children who are positively reinforced for their effort do better than children who are told they are talented.
KK: Are there any pitfalls we should avoid?
PW: Women underestimate the role-model factor in encouraging their sons’ reading. Moms need to ensure that dads or other males read to their sons. Also, if you keep throwing books at him that are too difficult, you’ll lose him.
KK: What is the overall message of your book?
PW: The most important predictor of academic success is the amount of time children spend reading books (even more important than economic or social status). A negative association with reading leads to a negative attitude towards learning, classroom and teachers and lower academic self-confidence (which starts him down a slippery slope).
Remember that your goal is not to push a certain type or amount of reading; it’s to get him comfortable with reading; you want him to associate reading with pleasurAdd a Comment