Thursday, 25 February 2016

Boy Won't Read? The Book could be the Problem

Boys don't Read

Does your boy hate reading? Do you struggle to get your son to sit long enough to engage in a book? The problem probably isn't the boy, but rather the content that he has available. My son was an avid reader so it was easy to find books he'd like and we could share together. My daughter, not so much. It took effort to find books she'd read, but once she did she read them over and over. It was the content in our personal library that was the problem. She was a picky reader, my son was not.

Her personal favourite series, The diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Why boys don't like to Read

Why boys may have a problem with reading, in my honest opinion - Attention span.  Other factors that can attribute to this is a lack of a reading male role model, a lack of value on books in the home, a learning disability, reading level of the book, and a lack of interest in the reading material.

Personally, I believe it to be the attention span, which is why I wrote THIRTEEN to be so fast paced with few descriptive words, to keep the action going. I also didn't write it as an epic, but rather as the first of a series of books because let's face it when your looking at Les Miserables or War and Peace the size of the book puts you off starting it.

Men are visual creatures, we know this. They don't remember things you tell them or even write down for them. They watch certain types of movies more than reading romance books, because they are visually stimulated organisms. Boys are just little men, the need pictures.

However, your son can't get ahead in life if all he reads are picture books and comic books. Don't get me wrong I love a good comic book and if your son is reading them buy him a truck full, but don't call it a day.

Reluctant Readers and THIRTEEN

When I started writing THIRTEEN I wanted it to be a book boys who didn't like reading would enjoy along with kids and teens who did like to read. I've been told adults like it too, which is a huge compliment.

Focus. Shannon. Focus. Right. When I decided on how I would write the book I decided that long, boring descriptions and convoluted back stories had to go.

If I didn't fully describe something or give long winded back stories how would anyone know what was going on or connect with the character? Easy. Let me put it to you this way:

A school field
A highway
A kitchen

When you read those three things, did you know what they looked like? That's why I didn't need to describe them. I let the reader fill in the blanks with their own visual experiences. When I had to describe something, I did it with as few words as possible using action.

He picked up a black hoody off the floor of his bedroom, gave it a sniff before putting it on.
He got into his mom's green Honda civic and kicked an old fast food bag out of his way.

THIRTEEN is filled with trigger words to help the reluctant reader follow the story and stay engaged with it. The trick isn't getting them to like reading the book, the trick is getting them to actually crack it open and read it, because they assume that they hate reading, when really it's just the content that they've been given and not the book itself.

OK so I know I might be full of the brown stuff here, this is just my personal theory and why I structured the book this way. I didn't have a room of reluctant readers to experiment on and test my theory. However, those who did read it during the creation process couldn't put it down. Not even my daughter whom I had to bribe with gifts to read just one chapter, but after that one chapter, she was hooked.

Want to know more about kids who don't like to read. Check out these sites:

Books Boys Want to Read

Why Boys Don't Read

Boys don't like reading, except when they do. 

I found these articles to be insightful, especially the last one written by a man who hated to read but loved stories. Understanding the problem and why your son doesn't like to read will help you find books he will engage with. Good Luck on your search.

Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a story about a boy, his single mom, her cop boyfriend, a missing dad, and an invading foreign army. She explores North American life in an occupied zone with no power, no communication, and no freedoms. For more information check out her website: 

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