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Join the conversation: Books that boys can't resist

By Samuel Reed III on Feb 17, 2013 03:40 PM

Girls will read books about boys. Boys will not read books about girls. Yes, that is a generalization, but any astute educator will agree with me. We need to understand that boys can be fickle readers, and one of the best ways to attract a boy to a book is to put a corpse on the cover or 'diarrhea' in the title.

- Danny Brassell, “Ten Ways to Get Boys Reading" 

Join me for an #engchat conversation at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, on the theme of getting reluctant adolescents to read.

What's #engchat? It's a way for English teachers to collaborate with each other on Twitter by sharing ideas and resources. It attracts teachers from all over the country in rich discussion every Monday from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern time.

The chat will focus on how to engage disengaged young men in literacy and writing. Although much of my teacher research has focused on young males, the discussion will be relevant for educators who support all reluctant readers.

To participate in Monday night's conversation, log in here using your Twitter account or follow the conversation via the hashtag #engchat. If you have questions on getting started, feel free to reach out to Meenoo Rami or myself. We're happy to help in any way we can.

Come share resources and learn tips and strategies that invite students to actively engage in reading, writing, and critical thinking. We'll explore how the culture of reading in classrooms influences students’ own literacy agency.


Read my previous post "Books boys can't resist" to find out more on the origin of this conversation.

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Comments (9)

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 17, 2013 5:54 pm
Sam you're on my props list two posts in a row! Right up my alley. That is exactly what I did for almost 20 years as the Reading Coordinator of the Title Reading Program at University City High School from 1975 to 1995. We had as many as 10 reading specialists teach reading to students who read at the 6th grade instructional reading level or below. That is what we did every day all day. We tried to get reluctant readers to read (and did) and then we argued the rest of all day about the best way to get them to read, teach reading comprehension, remedy their disabilities and promote authentic growth in "reading ability." And I mean "authentic" growth. (Not that which is tested on the PSSA's.) I am even going to try to overcome my lack of Twitter skills and listen in tomorrow night. How refreshing! But may I just put forth a couple of key concepts for our Notebook readers? (1) To get reluctant adolescent readers to read you must provide them with authentic reading materials at both their independent reading levels and their instructional levels. (2) Interest is the key. Reading ability increases with the readers "interest" in reading the story, article or book. Persistence and attention also increases with interest which is necessary for comprehension and development of comprehension. (3) Self selection is important, but the "Reading teacher's enthusiasm" in teaching a story, article, or book is of crucial importance. (4) Creating a "psychologically safe" setting for reluctant readers is also of crucial importance. Many reluctant readers are those who have a reading disability and are psychologically defensive. Their greatest fear may be "to be found out." (5) When I provided the content area teachers with professional development, I had a giant fish hook and a book as the bait on that hook. That is what a Great Reading teacher does during the pre-reading phase of guided reading (back in the day we called them "Directed Reading Activities"). You have to give them the bait they like, get them to taste that sweet sweet stuff, and then you have to gently and securely hook them on those books! (6) It is an Art form to get reluctant readers to read and so is the teaching of reading. I'll bet my retirement check that you are a true Artist. (7) The bottom line is that you cannot increase anyone's authentic reading ability unless you first get them to read authentic materials and then get them to think while they read. (8) The most intelligent statement I have heard come out of test maker's mouth was that of a college board SAT test presenter. He said that the best way to increase SAT scores for students is for them to: (1) do "wide reading," and (2) Students should be given challenging instruction commensurate to ability. And yes, You the Teacher have to be an expert on "books boy's can't resist."
Submitted by Samuel Reed III on February 17, 2013 6:00 pm

Rich, Thank you for the tips on engaging reluctant adolescent readers. Your suggestions are perfectly aligned with my beliefs and practices. This year at my school, I’ve been teaching in the Savvy Reading Lab. The Savvy Reading Lab, is a part of the John Hopkins, Diploma Now Program, that provides extra learning support for students that demonstrate potential for growth in reading.

Students receive explicit instruction on reading strategies with core texts and independent reading books (students love selecting their own books). And 2 days out of the week, students circulate in learning stations (writing center, computer station, information station, audio listening station, educational game station)

I notice many of my boys and girls are interested in reading about sports. I now plan to start a sports writers project in collaboration with Village of Champions, a community based sports and recreation club.

I may have my students write a major sport article about what impact the proposed school closings will have on public school sports teams.

I would loved to hear other ideas from other Notebok readers.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 17, 2013 6:29 pm
See, I told you! You are an Artist. I also apologize for not mentioning poetry in my comment above. Poetry is the English teacher's treasure chest of thoughts and feelings by which our teachers weave their story. Great stuff our teachers do in our schools!
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on February 17, 2013 10:01 pm
Sam: I tried to take your boy Paslay back to school. Censor. oh well. My boys (and girls) are reading Girl, Stolen.
Submitted by Max Elliot Anderson (not verified) on February 18, 2013 8:31 am
I grew up hating to read. Today I write action-adventures & mysteries for readers 8 - 12, especially boys. 10 books are published and another 10 are due to bew released in 2013.
Submitted by Jamal (not verified) on June 6, 2014 7:07 am
Submitted by Jamal (not verified) on June 6, 2014 7:51 am
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on February 18, 2013 8:11 am
sam: have you visited the all boys charter school? do you know anything about them? they seem to have engaged their students in reading and writing and they send a high percentage to college. you should call them. it might be helpful.
Submitted by ionica (not verified) on July 22, 2014 10:48 am

There are books for every kind of taste. The difficulty teachers face is finding the right books to introduce to the students. Once they do that, children won't just stop at one book....they will read more and more. unelte profesionale

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