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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Boys and Reading

Posted by Lisa Hill on March 17, 2008


Today’s Age (17.3.2008) features an article by Paul Jennings about boys and reading.  Much of what he has to say makes a lot of sense, but I have to admit that I’m not a fan of Jennings.  I simply don’t want to read about toilet humour, and I don’t want to promote it because I don’t think it does promote a love of reading that lasts.  

I do like the suggested reading, labelled ‘Great Macho Reads for Boys’.  I’m a big fan of the Old Tom series, Asterix, Specky Magee, Rowan of Rin, and Artemis Fowl.  The boys at my school also love Goosebumps (of course), Deltora Quest books,  Carole Wilkinson’s Dragonkeeper series and – contrary to Jennings belief that boys won’t read books with female heroes – the Lily Quest series.  These are all books with meaty themes that we can talk about and remember long after the book has been returned to the shelf.  I also find that retellings of ancient Greek and Roman myths are very popular, especially Michael Morporgo’s versions: this year I’m reading his Beowulf and we’re doing a study of different illustration styles of this story since 1920.  (See http://www.jnanam.net/beowulf_art/).  I think boys and girls of all ages love books with heroes who confront evil because they can admire them and emulate them.  In the 21st century kids don’t need to confront monsters but they do need to make choices which involve doing the right thing, standing up for their friends, and deciding which things are really worthwhile in the long term.  We’ve had some very fruitful discussions arising from these books.

Last year I began tagging books with genre stickers so that kids can more easily find the type of books they like (horror, sport, humour etc).  This has been very successful for those children who are exploring reading but get a bit lost amongst the shelves once they’ve exhausted their favourite authors. It’s taking a while, though.  I’ve only been in the library for four years and I haven’t read everything yet!

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