When I first embarked on my homeschooling journey, I was concerned about teaching my boys to read. I was under the impression that boys didn't like reading. I thought that boys didn't like books, at least that is what I have been told over and over again by media.
I think that if my eldest son had attended mainstream school instead of homeschooling, I would have a reluctant reader on my hands that hated reading. Reading didn't come naturally to him. When I enrolled him in a school, only to withdraw him from school to homeschool again three days later, I learned something. The test that he had to do, to see where his reading level was, disheartened him so much. He found out that he wasn't reading as well as the average child starting grade 2. His confidence in reading plummeted, and working on his reading skills over the next few months became a source of frustration to him. Prior to that, he had no one to compare himself to, and was not aware that other children his age could read better than him - and this was a good thing. Now he was aware and saw himself as a failure.
After lots of encouragement, patience and confidence building, Leader Boy Warrior is now a confident reader and devours books at an alarming rate. I can't help thinking that had he not been allowed to improve his reading skills at his own pace, as homeschooling allows, and without the comparison to his peers, he would have grown to dislike books, and hate reading. I can't help thinking that maybe there are many boys labelled as reluctant readers that were pushed too hard or became discouraged too early and just gave up.
Another factor to Leader Boy Warrior's reading skills being under-average for his grade at time of testing, is his age. In Queensland, your child starts in prep if they will be turning 5 before June 30, otherwise they have to wait until the next year to start. Because his birthday is before June 30, it means he is one of the youngest in his grade. His peers that are born in July are 9 months older than him. That is a huge difference in development for a young child, but this doesn't seem to be taken into consideration with the tests.
We use a heavy literature based curriculum which uses books that are anything but boring. My research into how boys learn best showed that in days past, before books, men used to sit around the camp fire and share stories with their boys. The stories were of historical events. This is how the boys learned and it was passed down from generation to generation. In essence, this is what a Living Book does. It takes facts and weaves them throughout a good fictional story, attaching emotion and people to certain events or places. Skeptical at first, using Living Books has proven to work really well with my boys, and I am amazed at the information they retain from our read-alouds.
Which brings me to choosing books for boys. It makes me so angry that certain academics believe that to get reluctant boy readers to read, they have to give them books that talk all about backsides and flatulence. It actually insults a boys intelligence, and in some ways, reinforces the lie that girls are more intelligent than boys. Boys are just as intelligent as boys and given the opportunity to be exposed to good quality books, full of heroes, action and adventure, we don't really need to resort to books about private body parts and bodily functions. We have lots of fun books that the boys enjoy that aren't rude.
One such book found it's way into my 4 year old's library selection this week. It was an early reader book. I read the book to the boys to see their reaction. I asked the boys what they thought about the book and I received these responses: "Stupid"; "dumb"; "rude"; "disgusting." I am so glad that after exposure to good books, my boys know the difference between a quality book and what educator Charotte Mason called, 'twaddle'.
How about you? How do you feel about boys and books?
Still taking lessons from the King,