Girls read more than boys in just about every developed country, and it’s a big reason they have better educational outcomes.
The recent Boys’ Reading report commissioned by the National Literacy Trust (UK) found that only 1 in 4 boys read outside of the classroom. The Commission found several factors contributed to this, including the home environment, where girls are more likely to be bought books and taken to the library and the school environment, where teachers may have a limited knowledge of contemporary and attractive texts.
And it’s not just a phenomenon in the U.K.: These trends in girls’ dominance in reading can be found pretty much anywhere in the developed world. In 2009, a global study of the academic performance of 15-year-olds found that, in all but one of the 65 participating countries, more girls than boys said they read for pleasure. On average across the countries, only about half of boys said they read for enjoyment, compared to roughly three-quarters of girls.
,I am the father of two boys. My eldest isn’t too bad a reader but my youngest, 12 year old Joey, is a reluctant reader. Loves screen, not into books, I’m sure that sounds familiar to some of you. I constantly ask Joey why he doesn’t want to read and his main reply is that he can’t find anything interesting to read. I noticed that like most boys Joey liked heroes and adventure and a good laugh. I am a screenwriter so along with my writing partner, Mick, we decided to try writing a story that Joey would enjoy and want to read.
We took a classic, Hercules and the Hydra and rammed it full of stupidity, jokes and laughs. To my great joy Joey loved it and wanted to read more!
Seeing the success of our story on a very reluctant reader Mick and I decided to test the story on 200 kids at 5 local schools. The results were amazing. All the kids, including reluctant reader boys, laughed and totally engaged with the story. As well the children provided fantastic feedback about the sort of book on myths they’d like to read. A book that had quizzes, info snippets and could be dipped in and out of rather than having to be read strictly from beginning to end. Totally blown away by the feedback Mick and I raced away mashed up some more myths and Mashed Myths: Greek Heroes was born.
For me this experience has reinforced the idea that while girls might seem more natural readers than boys that the real clue to getting boys reading is making sure they have access to books that they really want to read.
Mick and I listened to lots of kids and worked very hard to make sure Mashed Myths was a book kids, especially reluctant reader boys want to read. We think we’ve succeed and in our own small way are helping to close the gender divide in children reading levels.