In the last and final part of our Encouraging boys to read series, we ask Dr George Jacobs, and Heng Huey Bin, Senior Librarian, National Library Board on the difference between motivating girls and boys to read.

Q: How is motivating boys to read different from motivating girls?

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Dr George Jacobs

When it comes to motivating girls and boys to read, the similarities greatly outweigh the differences. All benefit from being read to, from having access to a wide variety of different reading materials, from making regular visits to the local library and from seeing adults and older children who are models of avid reading.

However, more patience and persistence may be needed with boys.

Ways to persist include:

1. Looking for materials with male protagonists – especially ones who are the boys’age and have their interests.

2. Giving boys control over what is read to them (so, have lots of choices), where they are read to (on a bed, in a favourite chair, on the floor or outside on the void deck) and what they do during and after reading (acting out what happened in the book, making book marks for the books or organising the books on the bookshelf in their room).

3. Encouraging boys to develop passions for various topics, such as reptiles, and activities, such as sports, and then looking to connect those passions to reading.

4. Building boys’ general confidence level, because reading can be difficult with thousands of words, spelled all sorts of ways, often with multiple meanings.

5. Showing that reading online and hard copy can be fun and rewarding.

Dr George Jacobs has written widely on reading aloud to children, extensive reading, cooperative learning and student-centred instruction. Since 1993, he has been based in Singapore, teaching for such institutions at the Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organisation’s Regional Language Centre, Ministry of Education (Singapore), National Institute of Education (Singapore), Center for American Education and James Cook University.

Heng Huey Bin:

Boys tend to be more specific and selective in their choice of books. This greatly narrows their reading options as compared to girls who are generally more open to read a wider range of reading materials. Parents can first interest them with alternative reading options, such as movie adaptations of books like Harry Potter book series by J.K Rowling, ParaNorman by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and Percy Jackson book series by Rick Riordan.

Reading-related activities that expose them to a variety of books based on their preferred genre/topic and peer influence also help in motivating boys to read. Finding out what your child individual preferences can help foster their love for reading.

Part 1: How To Encourage Boys To Read (Part I)
Part 2: How To Encourage Boys To Read (Part II)

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