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Apr 28 / Adrianne Driver

Motivating Boys to Read

Emily Ellison

It is known that the number of male readers tends to taper out while they are in their middle school years. I, a library student, have a brother who proudly says that he has not truly read a book since he was in Middle school. Why is that? Well there have been numerous studies that have been conducted that offer a variety of reasons for this occurring, for instance, Kristen Bevilacqua states that may boys find that as they get older they are “too busy to read” trying to juggle school work, along with any outside activities that they might have. Another reason Bevilacqua gives for boys not reading is the perception that most books deal with “girly” topics. She goes on to describe a third reason: that boys are afraid of being labeled as a nerd.  I agree with the first idea involving a busy schedule, but the last two are not as plausible in my opinion. There are so many new series books that feature adventure, male protagonists and other aspects.

The question we need to ask ourselves, as emerging professionals is, how we can influence the reluctant users to use the library and its facilities. The first thing is to encourage, while this may sound quite similar, and one of the most basic starting points, boys, as Dr. Julie Wood states, “often underestimate their ability to read”. So often I have seen boys and male young adults who do not believe that they are able to read the huge book they have been assigned. There are several possibilities of motivating boys to read and read more often. Digital media and digital readers  are a one of the biggest draws for the boys who come to my reference desk. Their favorite thing to do is read the Captain Underpants series on their digital media device, because they find the frequent flipping and moveable cartoons are quite incredibly amusing. Another great resource to connect them with is is a community of male readers, authors, and a few notible people like Time Green, Dan Gutman, Gordon Korman, are just a few of the writers that talk about the books that they are reading, and enjoying currently, past and hope to in the future. Boys really enjoy reading what their peers are reading. Another useful idea is to introduce your reluctant reader to the spectacular world of audio books. Children’s audio books are an unsung gem at the library, they are such wonderful catapults into reading for kids, especially boys. I have found personally, the driest material to be utterly absorbing when read by a wonderful speaker on an audio book. There are many tips and little tricks that many have tried to motivate kids, boys in particular, to read. I find that more often than not, it is in the different programs, and approaches. For example, at my place of employment we are hosting a Harry Potter day. Any children that can answer questions from every book are entered to win prizes.



Wood, J. (2013, September 5). Getting boys hooked on reading: how can digital media help? Retrieved from: