First, “[e]xpand your definition of reading to include non-fiction, humor, graphic novels, comic books, wordless books, fantasy, science fiction, magazines, online, audio books, [and] comic strips,” children’s author Jon Scieszka told About.com. Scieszka is also the founder of the Web site Guys Read.
Second, do more than shelve “boy-friendly” books; actively promote them. Boys know when the books they like are being ignored. “And they’ll recognize the implication: books that are funny or action packed or fantasylike aren’t any good,” Sullivan wrote.
Third, use reading logs, Kristen Bevilacqua, a literacy volunteer in South Africa, suggests. The log’s purpose is as a “milestone tracker” more than a diary, which might be considered “girly.” The log is a place for boys to record the number of genres or chapter books they have read. “Since reading is an activity that is often too abstract for many boys, the concrete proof of their success will be beneficial to their reading confidence and independence,” according to Bevilacqua.
Fourth, another idea Sullivan suggests to teachers is to have a story hour during students’ lunch hour. In 2005, Greenland Central School, an elementary school in New Hampshire, held a program called “Literary Lunch,” where a teacher or local librarian read to students as they ate. “Each book takes one week to read, and on Fridays, we celebrate it with cupcakes for dessert,” school librarian Margaret Kelley told the Portsmouth Herald.
Fifth, enlist help from other male role models. The guide “Me Read? No Way!” highlights a mentor program at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, where men in their 20s developed “informal educational relationships” with male students, who they met weekly for two years.
“Male-teacher librarians need to read books—lots of books. Always have a book on hand. Carry it. Know a wide selection of books that boys will read,” Joel Shoemaker is quoted as saying in the guide, published by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Even younger boys can model good reading habits for their peers. Bevilacqua suggests creating book recommendation boards in school, where boys write a summary of the book of the month or week and explain why they liked it. “A book recommended by a friend, needs no other stamp of approval for boys to want to read it too,” Bevilacqua wrote.