“Boy Books” and “Girl Books”?

 In Support for Struggling Readers

boy reader

Whenever I open this can of worms, I get feedback saying that boys can, should and will read whatever girls read.  And I don’t disagree! But here’s one fact no one can argue with: the majority of our struggling/reluctant readers are boys. In fact, the latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) Data (2018) indicates that boys’ reading scores are lower than girls’ scores in every participating country. And many boys (and men) who do like to read prefer nonfiction. There’s plenty of worthy fiction out there to interest and engage our boys.  But first we have to convince them that reading fiction is worthwhile.  And that’s where HIP books come in.

HIP’s founder and prolific author Paul Kropp always asserted that there are four things to BEAR in mind when choosing fiction to engage our boys:

Boys or men as main characters
Episodic plot lines
Rebellious against society or breaking rules

You can read more of Paul’s thoughts on “Books and the Boy Problem,” including five things schools can do to support boy readers, here on the HIP Website.  But you don’t have to take our word for it.  Here’s an interview with Leonard Sax from MacLean’s Magazine.

It’s been said that if we have students who don’t like to read, it only means they haven’t found the right book.  That may be oversimplifying things a bit, but we at High Interest Publishing have made it our mission to help teachers put the right books in their students’ hands at the right moment.  That’s why most HIP novels feature male characters in exciting action-packed situations.

That doesn’t mean that High Interest Publishing has forgotten about girl readers.  (Check out the HIP Girls’ Choices Pack.) But girls do tend to be a little more flexible in their reading choices; for example, they are usually willing to read about male characters. And research has shown that when we strive to make our classrooms more “boy-friendly,” our girls benefit as well. “Teaching to the Minds of Boys” is an article from ASCD that describes an action research project at Douglass Elementary School in Colorado. The school implemented a number of “boy-friendly” practices, including more experiential and kinaesthetic learning, more visual activities, and more student choice. On the Colorado State Assessment Program that year, Douglass Elementary students demonstrated the the highest achievement gain of any school in the District, for both boys and girls.  Most remarkably, its special education students achieved 7.5 times the average gain for this demographic in the district.


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