Have a boy at home who doesn’t read? Boys prefer their toys. How true is this?
In part one of our Encouraging boys to read series, Dr George Jacobs, and Heng Huey Bin, Senior Librarian, National Library Board share with TNAP on how parents can motivate their sons to read.
Q: How can parents motivate boys to read? Should mothers approach this differently from fathers? How so?
Dr George Jacobs:
Fathers and other male relatives have a big role to play in encouraging boys to read. Young boys should be read to by the males in their lives, and in multi-lingual Singapore, books in multiple languages, read with multiple accents give children an extra advantage.
When it comes to reading aloud to children, the slogan is, “Never too young, never too old to be read to”. So, start early and don’t stop. Routines are important to young children, and being read to should be a regular part of young boy’s routines near bed time and at other times.
Even when boys are too young to understand what is being read to them, they can still form an association between reading and bonding with others. By reading to young boys, family members are showing that they care about the boys.
Of course, mothers too should read aloud to boys. Boys especially may appreciate activities as part of being read to. Remember that, “reading aloud is a journey, not a race”.
A simple picture book with 12 pages, one sentence per page, can take 30 minutes or more to read aloud when activities are included.
Activities for young children can include clapping, turning pages, making sounds that fit the story, reading aloud with parts of the book they have learned because the same story has been read to them multiple times, and drawing to accompany the book.
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:
Parents can become good reading role models for their children by reading regularly themselves. They can talk about the common books they have read and hold active book discussions with their children at home. Reading aloud to children from young also helps to fuel the child’s interest in reading and nurture a habit of reading at home. Engaging children through books and related activities opens up opportunities for parent-child bonding
Boys, in particular, look up to their fathers in many aspects when growing up. Boys who see their fathers as avid readers tend to be more motivated to read as compared to those whose fathers do not read regularly.
Mothers, on the other hand, can help to motivate their boys in giving them freedom in their selection of books and creating a literacy-rich home. Boys tend to be more selective in their choice of reading materials – in terms of the plot, genre / topic and even the format. Allowing them to choose reading materials of their interest and making them readily accessible at home helps to motivate them to read more.
Sometimes, all it takes is one book to catch the child’s interest and he will be hooked to reading for life.
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