Well Read

An interesting essay in the Wall Street Journal on the disparity in reading abilities between boys and girls, and the pitfalls of how to lure boys to read more.

Our oldest son loves to read.  It’s possible this is just a fluke of breeding – both his mother and I love to read as well.  But I think there are some things that can be done to encourage boys to read that this essay doesn’t bother to consider.
Be Readers.  Children often emulate their parents.  If they see that reading is important to you (meaning they actually see you reading, rather than you just telling them how important reading is), they may be prompted to investigate it for themselves. 
Read Good Stuff.  What you read will be observed along with the fact that you’re reading at all.  I believe in a fairly broad variety of reading material, ranging from old Bloom County or Calvin and Hobbes anthologies to classical literature, history, philosophy, theology, etc.  You can help guide your kids towards worthwhile books if you’ve read them yourself.
Have Good Reading Material On Hand.  If you collect books, this is probably not a problem for you.  But even if you don’t have the space or the money to amass a personal library, you can make weekly trips to the library and ensure that you have lots of books on hand, lying around, waiting to be picked up, thumbed through, and read when a child is bored and unoccupied.
Read to Your Child.  I think this is a huge one.  Perhaps the biggest one.  And it encompasses all three of the above suggestions in one tidy little suggestion.  I finished reading The Hobbit to my kids just a couple of months ago.  We’re almost through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , now.  Read with inflection.  Read with emotion.  Give each character a unique voice that you use for the entire book.  Make it fun.  If your child has fun with you reading to them, it’s got to encourage them to read on their own.
We also limit our children’s access to video games (we have a Wii system).  Yes, boys are naturally more attracted to the visual appeal of video games, and parents need to be directly involved in what their children play as well as how much they play it.  At least thus far, our kids spend far more time reading than they do playing video games.  Hopefully that will continue the rest of their lives!

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