Saturday, 11 February 2012

Boys and books



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,





18 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you Jo. My boys don't need crude books to grab their attention either. They are too busy reading great books that feed their souls and minds. Now our next challenge is how to keep up with our readers and their voracious reading appetites. Sadly we can't rely on the public library. Thank goodness for Bookdepository. Hehehe.

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    1. Those rude books really make me mad. Yay for good books for our boys! I have you to thank Tracey for introducing me to the concept of Living Books. It has changed the way we homeschool so much. The boys and I love our read alouds. xo

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  2. Hear Hear Jo. I agree with you. I find it so frustrating using the library because of this. There are some really great books for boys.

    Have you heard about GA Henty ? He writes historically accurate books that have christian hero's in them.

    http://www.prestonspeed.com/About%20Henty.html

    http://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=G+A+Henty&search=search

    Sometimes you can find them in op shops and the like.

    Another great series are the Biggles books.
    http://www.biggles.info/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biggles

    http://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=W.+E.+Johns.&search=search

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    1. I haven't heard of GA Henty but I have heard of Biggles. Thanks for the links Chareen. I'll check them out! xo

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    2. Hi Jo

      Another great serries of books are the Little Britches serries of books.

      Excellent is the only word. They are an autobiographical serries and very well written.

      http://everybedofroses.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/tuesdays-treasures-1-11.html

      http://www.bookdepository.com/Little-Britches-Ralph-Moody/9780803281783

      They are worth their weight in GOLD !!

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    3. These books are free for the Kindle on Amazon
      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=G.+A.+Henty&x=12&y=17

      If you don't have a kindle you can download an app for your pc.

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    4. Thanks Chareen!
      Have you ever had a look at the readers that Sonlight have? My boys have loved all the readers they have. They know how to pick great books.

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    5. I can second the Little Britches books. We listened to these on audio story last year. Loved them. But even better, and doubly triply recommended are the Sugar Creek Gang books. I've been led to believe the modern version in the christian books stores are tweaked for modern kids. Not sure but we steered clear of them anyway. We bought the audios from http://www.belovedbooks.com/page/page/1567474.htm. Your warriors would probably also love Jonathon Creek Park. Once again we listened to them as audios. Great and dramatic. Covers science at the same time. Gosh, I could go on and on about great books. Oh oh almost forget the very best of all - Lamplight books. I have never found anything like these. Again, we listened to the audio (the new radio dramas but for these I've been buying some of the books too as they are true treasures). You can purchase mp3 downloads of these: http://www.modularmerchant.com/clients/lamplighter/storefront.php Ooooh there is a new one out that we don't have. Hmmm I have to go. There's some shopping that I need to do. Enjoy!!!

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    6. We just borrowed the Jonathon Creek Park audio collection. They are excellent and will build your children's faith in a very practical way.

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    7. I am an avid Sonlighter {Heirloom Club Member} their books are excellent. My all time favourite is Carry on Mr Bowditch. :)

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    8. Thanks for all the comments and links. I have an eleven year old boy who can't stop reading. Are these books suitable for this age as well, or are they mainly for younger children? I would love to find books that will inspire him.

      Thank you again. I'll be checking out your suggestions.

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    9. For those of you looking for good inspiring reads for boys and like GA Henty Amazon currently has over 50 of his titles for FREE

      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=G.+A.+Henty&x=12&y=17

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    10. IF you don't have a Kindle you can download the Kindle App for your pc for free and still have the books.

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  3. I love living books!! Isn't it great Jo, that we get to read such wonderful literature to our children! Books can make history come alive. :) As for boys and reading, my eldest son is our strongest reader, his passion for books surpasses even that of his three sisters. I have found that my boys need/needed more time to learn to read than the girls, usually not taking off until they are closer to 8, which just means more time to enjoy delicious read alouds together! xx

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    1. Mel, you were so instrumental in my decision to take the plunge and purchase my first Sonlight Core and IG. I am so glad you were patient with me s I emailed you with all sorts of questions on Sonlight! Thank you.

      I agree, living books are such a delight and I'm with you - I don't mind one little bit that boys pick up reading later than girls. It means we can indulge in those read alouds for longer. xo

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  4. When I went through high school, all the girls worked hard and did their homework. All the boys lazed around the classroom and looked like they couldn't care less and never did anything. As so many of the guys got into University and good jobs, I think the problem there was a stereotype which leads to the belief that men aren't good readers. But then, so many men become authors... somewhere, in many boy's hearts, they must be loving what the uncool school is presenting to them. I am really encouraged and happy to hear you've been able to give your boys the freedom to read and just love it! Stereotype free.

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  5. I think we need more (good clean) fast paced adventure books for boys... get writing authors!
    xx

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my lessons!

I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Love,
Jo Princess Warrior xo