I’m writing an on-going series of posts about the apparent reading gap between school age girls and boys. The lowdown so far:
In Part 1, I discussed The Center for Education Policy’s report that shows that boys consistently lag behind girls in reading as measured by standardized tests. I also discussed the debate around the use of “gross out” books as the answer to closing the gap.
In Part 2, I delved a little deeper into the Center of Education Policy report that kicked this all off. I also offered some “context” for framing the problem.
In Part 2.5 I threw out some interesting graphs that I thought added some additional context to the discussion.
In part 4, I’ll be taking a brief look at the roles that grown-ups may be playing in the disparity.
The gap between girls and boys on reading scores appears to be mirrored in the adult world by the gap in reading between men and women. In 2007, NPR reported that women out-read men by a significant margin, and the gap is at its widest for fiction. While anecdotes are not data, these finding do jibe with my general experience. As a group, the men that I know well generally read much less than their wives do (if at all) and rarely read fiction, especially not contemporary fiction. If only their mothers and female teachers are visibly reading, what is the take-home message for young male readers?
The web site Guys Read, established by author Jon Scieszka, has set out to make positive changes for male literacy. The web site’s “Guys and Reading” information page includes some grim statistics about boys and reading and overall educational prospects. Under a list of reasons why boys may be having problems with reading, it notes:
Boys don’t have enough positive male role models for literacy. Because the majority of adults involved in kids’ reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity.
The solution to this particular problem:
Encourage male role models.
Men have to step up as role models of literacy. What we do is more important than all we might say.
If you are male and are concerned about male literacy, do something about it. Be seen reading a book. Talk to your male friends about books that you have read and enjoyed. Start a Guys Read Field Office.