Monday, January 20, 2014

List of Tips, Strategies & Resources from Boys & Books Talk

Some ideas from Duncan McDougall (Children's Literacy Foundation - CLiF), Dan Greene (U-32 Librarian) and Derek Cote (U-32 Sophomore) for inspiring boys to love reading:

Follow the reader's interests, not what they "should" read
  • Let kids choose the books they want to read - and know that it's okay to put down a book if it just isn't working for them.
  • Link books to other interests - someone might not like "reading" but they have other interests that books are written about. Popular examples include hunting, sports, racing (cars, motorcycles, etc.), games and the book versions of popular movies or T.V. shows.
  • Following reader's interests may also mean reading that isn't in traditional book form - graphic novels, comics, and books on CD all introduce kids to the engaging ideas found in books.  
  • Don't get stuck on reading up to a certain grade level. It's important to stretch as a reader's confidence grows, but not too far. 
Make reading a social activity
  • Read with your kids, read with your teenagers, read with your students, read with your friends. Reading out loud and reading as a social activity is important. 
  • Even if you aren't a strong reader, you can still share reading. CLiF offers workshops on how parents can engage in reading with their children even if they aren't strong readers themselves.
Make it easy to find books
  • Make books easily available at home, in the car, in the classroom, everywhere a kid goes. 
  • Get a library card and use it (shopping at your local independent bookstore is nice too).
  • Look for books in series, if the first one works there will be many more to follow it up with.
  • Encourage kids to get book recommendations from parents, librarians and (perhaps most importantly) their friends. 
Think about the purpose of a book
  • Does everyone in the class have to read the same book? Sometimes they do, sometimes reading can be tailored to ability and interest.
  • Is a book assigned because it has a pivotal story students need to learn, or is it assigned to build vocabulary, skills and reading confidence? 
  • Does the book need to have plot development, character development, a long story arc? Or is it okay to read something like nonfiction that's broken into discrete chunks, where a reader can learn a new fact or interesting idea in a single, short reading session?
A few other thoughts. . .
  • Although we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, covers do matter. Books that look cool have a better chance.
  • Tailoring to an individual reader is ideal, but there are also clear trends you can follow. Right now, for example, many boys are interested in zombies and "the various blood sucking creatures of the night".  Librarians know what's popular.
  • See the links at the end of our Boys & Books post for even more resources.

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