Want a Boy to Read This Summer? Listen First

BoyReadingAs a bookseller and the father of three boys, I am often asked this question:  Which books are best for boys?  I appreciate that parents want to buy good books.  However, I like to redirect the question to this:  What can I do today to encourage the boy in my life to read?

Below are four techniques you can employ today to answer this question:

1.    Listen
Before you place a book in the hands of a boy, you need to listen to what he is interested in.  Pay attention to what he talks about and what hobbies and topics he enjoys.

Take him to a library or bookstore and see where he ends up.  It might be in a topic area that you have not considered.  I couldn’t care less about professional football.  But, my boys love to read books about the NFL.  Who knew?

When you acknowledge his interests and preferences, he will feel validated and want to demonstrate his knowledge on the chosen subject through reading.

2.    Schedule time for reading
If you want to get something done, you put it on your calendar.  Schedule time each day that is for reading only.  In our house, the 30 minutes before bed is reading time.  While you’re at it why not make a schedule for electronics?

3.    What are you reading this summer? 
Children model their parents’ behavior.  The best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever heard is this: You can’t give your child something you do not possess.  If you do not have a habit of reading, it’s unreasonable to expect your children to become consistent readers.  Turn off the TV, pick up a book and conspicuously read it–starting today.

4.    On his level
Boys want to succeed at reading.  A boy in second or third grade may not have the skills to take on dense chapter books and they probably think that picture books are “for babies.”  Enter the graphic novel.

Graphic novels are an excellent bridge between picture books and chapter books.  A good graphic novel contains illustration that tells the story along with the words.  We have a great list graphic novels you can browse here.

Pay attention to how he’s reading and steer him to books that are within his reading ability.

I always say that the most powerful educational tool a parent has is his or her ears.  There is no lack of high-quality reading materials.  It just takes effort on behalf of a parent or teacher and the boy to find the right books.

Put some effort into finding the right books now and you will be pleasantly surprised at the reading experience your boy has this summer.

Even if it is books about the NFL.


Jake Ball is the founder of Children’s Bookstore. He started childrensbookstore.com as a truly independent bookstore that is 100% dedicated to juvenile literature.  Childrensbookstore.com provides online book fairs to schools, libraries and youth groups of all kinds. 

Jake and his wife have 4 children and reside in Meridian, Idaho between their school and a large corn field.

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