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Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby Horton on Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:37 am

This is a really excellent article about the boy/girl literacy gap, mainly focusing on why it's so much harder to get boys to read.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... e_facebook

For some time now, the focus has been on trying to bring boys back to books by giving them gross-out titles and sort of "off-color" subject matter (think Captain Underpants and the Butt Book series). But now they're starting to think that it's harder for boys to read because they have too much competition for their attention in the form of...yep, video games.

I'm curious about this. My boys both play video games like crazy, but they also both read like crazy. This month alone, DS9 has read well over 800 minutes (as opposed to the 300 minutes they're required to read) and most nights, DS7, who is supposed to read 15 minutes, will read around 30 or 40.

However, I will admit that finding something for them to read is difficult. Fortunately, they've never really had any interest in the gross-out stuff. Their interests seem to be so much...pickier...than my daughter's were.

Does anyone here have a hard time getting their boys to read? What do you think of the gross-out books? Do they read those any better than they read, say, Mark Twain Award books? Do you think it's a fair estimation to lay it on video games?

Also, I think it's a really interesting little factoid at the end of the article there, that the boy/girl literacy gap is nonexistent in homeschooled kids. Is that evidence of lack of gross-out and video games and such, do you think, or just that the subject-pool for research is so much smaller than public school kids?
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby Horton on Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:40 am

I should add, by the way, that I don't know if I think it's fair to lay it all on the video games. Reading, like any other activity, is a modeled behavior, and I can't tell you how many adults (especially men) I know who flat out do not read, period. I think your kids have to see you reading in order to see the value in it, just like any other behavior. If Dad doesn't read, then why should the kid?
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby mamalackey on Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:22 am

Home school boys love video games and gross out stuff as much as any other kid. Their parents work just as hard as public and private school parents to get the kids to get off the game consoles as any one else. I would think the researchers didn't do a very wide pole/testing of home school groups. I
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby mygr8crew on Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:31 am

My oldest son loves to read and liked all of the gross out books but he has evolved to much heartier reading.

My youngest son however is not much of a reader. I think he would rather have teeth pulled. It doesn't help he has had some slow progress in reading. He does read the gross out books and frankly I am thrilled if he finishes one. I would rather him read that than nothing at all.

I guess I should say that yes, they both play video games, my yonger son more than my older one. He loves his games. But I try to limit them so he will get his reading done.

Your last point was good, about kids modeling their parent's reading behavior. I love to read but I can't say they have seen me read a lot. I am always reading a book, mostly because the kids are older and don't require me to run around after them so much. I also need a book because I seem to do a lot of waiting...at the Dr. office, waiting for someone after school, waiting after band practice, etc. I am hoping this helps my younger son turn around a bit.
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby moosebane on Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:54 am

My daughter is a self-described "extreme reader," and my son--well, not so much. In fact, I took my son to a "cattle call" audition for acting jobs (his request) and he had to read for a commercial. I was a little afraid of how he would do, because I knew he didn't enjoy reading and I wasn't sure how well he COULD read (bad mom), but he did so well that he received a call back for a second audition. (Unfortunately, the whole thing required a boatload of money and a trip to New York, so don't look for DS to be on TV any time soon.)

He reads the things he is required to read in school and that's pretty much it. However, for him it's not video games that interfere. It's skating. He is very physically active and is in excellent shape, so I can't complain about him not reading when I know he's doing other things that are good for him.

DH reads all the freakin' time. As do I. Sometimes it's just a matter of personal choice as opposed to some nefarious evil like video games. DS does read skating and golf magazines, so it's all about interests, I'm guessing.
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby Horton on Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:34 am

I've long had a theory that all the forced reading, especially the nightly reading homework, makes our kids dislike reading. They read all day long in school, then are required to come home and read for at least 15-20 minutes Every. Single. Night. Most adults don't read every single night, and I would guess that a great many of the teachers don't read every single night, either. Even I might have nights that I just don't feel like reading.

And, moose, you bring up a point that I was wondering about, too. Are boys more likely to be active in some sort of sport than girls, especially a sport that requires more frequent practices? If so, then is that part of what keeps them from reading? And is that all bad? I don't know the answers to any of those questions. It may be that girls are just as active in extracurricular sports as boys.
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby moosebane on Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:41 am

Jennifer Brown wrote:I've long had a theory that all the forced reading, especially the nightly reading homework, makes our kids dislike reading. They read all day long in school, then are required to come home and read for at least 15-20 minutes Every. Single. Night. Most adults don't read every single night, and I would guess that a great many of the teachers don't read every single night, either. Even I might have nights that I just don't feel like reading.

And, moose, you bring up a point that I was wondering about, too. Are boys more likely to be active in some sort of sport than girls, especially a sport that requires more frequent practices? If so, then is that part of what keeps them from reading? And is that all bad? I don't know the answers to any of those questions. It may be that girls are just as active in extracurricular sports as boys.


My reading time is really limited, but I read on the bus going to work and coming home; I read during my lunch hour; and if I can, I read at night at home (when I'm not writing or working those confounded word puzzles--I just pitched about 30 word puzzle books). But I'm guessing you're right--the kids read all day, and they're no more going to want to read at night than I am going to want to watch lawyers on TV. :lol:

Extracurriculars do take up a lot of time for both boys AND girls. It might just happen to be different activities. Mine was choir (still is on Thursday nights); DD is into photography. DS rides the skateboard. If they're not spending too much time doing any one thing, even video games are not a problem as far as I'm concerned (depending on the game, of course--don't get me started on the stuff my stepgrandson's mother buys him).
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby 83hwy on Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:42 am

O good, books that fart or talk about farts. Where's the coffee table books on passing gas? Precious Moments figurines on passing gas for collectors? The New Reality Show: Passing Gas, with this week's never-was celebrity.

Truth.
Jennifer Brown wrote:I think your kids have to see you reading in order to see the value in it, just like any other behavior. If Dad doesn't read, then why should the kid?
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby siglercentral on Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:05 pm

DS5 is just learning to read and loves reading. But I completely agree that it is SO HARD to find books for boys. There are tons of series for girls, but not for boys.

Ones that he has enjoyed include
Dick and Jane books
Hot Wheels (Easy Reader)
Frog and Toad (remember these guys?)
they've split up the jungle book into smaller pieces - he likes the rikki tikki tavi ones.

He likes magic tree house books, but i'm thinking by the time he's old enough to read them himself, he won't be interested.

He'll sit and look at calvin and hobbes cartoons for about 15 minutes before he gives up.
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Re: Fart Books, Video Games, and Why Boys Don't Read

Postby sahmiam43 on Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:47 pm

I don't know that we can lay it all on video games. We had a non gaming system house until this year, and DS12 was a very unenthusiastic reader. I think he reads more now, but that may be because he is forced to read more in middle school. He has to pick from an award winning/nominated selection as required by his school. I suspect the quality of the book, which backs up the Captain Underpants theory, is what is holding his attention more. Although, he did greatly enjoy all the Wimpy Kid books, and is now reading them to Lil DS ( which is the cutest thing EVER!). He is very active, twitchy..and would rather be running around. DD is more sedentary so she can read for hours on end. I have to STOP her, which seems wrong.


In our experience--re: Dad theory-- DH reads for about an hour a day, gets up early to do it. When I can sneak it in, I pull out a book.

So, yeah and no.
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DS-14
DS-7

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