Engaging Boy Readers

The topic of boy readers has been one of the themes of this school year for me.  It’s arisen in many contexts, so when I saw this article in The Reading Teacher (November 2009), it caught my attention.  After reading it, I thought it was worth passing along.  It discusses the results of a study that tried to sort out what types of books will “hook” boy readers, especially reluctant boy readers, on reading.

In case, as many of us are, you’re pressed for time, below is a summary of the major categories these researchers discovered, as well as samples of some book titles in each category.  The study targeted fifth grade boys, but the categories are applicable above and below this level.

1. Books that “look good” (enticing covers, easy to read or unusual fonts, or interesting text elements)

Balliet, B. (2008). The Calder game. New York: Scholastic.

Base, G. (2008). Enigma: A magical mystery. New York: Abrams.

Kibuishi, K. (2008). Amulet: The stonekeeper—Book 1. New York: Scholastic.

Wood, D. (2008). Into the volcano. New York: Scholastic.

2. Books that are part of a series or by a favorite author: fantasy

Gutman, D. (2008). Nightmare at the book fair. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Haddix, M.P. (2008). Found: The missing—Book 1. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Jacques, B. Redwall series (fantasy world of small animals).

Paver, M. (2004). Wolf brother. New York: HarperCollins.

Riordan, R. (2008). The battle of the labyrinth. New York: Hyperion.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter series (magic).

3. Books that are part of a series or by a favorite author: realistic fiction

Clements, A. (2008). Lost and found (M. Elliott, Illus.). New York: Atheneum.

Other favorites by this popular author include Frindle (1996), Lunch Money (2005), and No Talking (2007).

Horowitz, A. Alex Rider series (spy series).

4. Books with a character who goes through a number of situations or years

Farris, P.J. (2007). Crossover dribble. Mahomet, IL: Mayhaven.

Karlowski, G.L. (2004). Quake! Disaster in San Francisco, 1906. Atlanta: Peachtree.

Mason, P. (2007). Camel rider. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Peet, M. (2003). Keeper. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

5. Informational books with short passages supported by photographs or illustrations

Aguilar, D. (2008). Eleven planets: A new view of the solar system. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Blackwood, G. (2008). The great race: The amazing round-the-world auto race of 1908. New York: Amulet.

Marin, A. (2006). Oh, rats! The story of rats and people (C.S. Mordan, Illus.). New York: Dutton.

Murawski, D. (2007). Face to face with caterpillars. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Schanzwer, R. (2009). What Darwin saw: The journey that changed the world. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

6. Graphic novels and graphic nonfiction

Avi. (2004). City of light, city of dark. New York: Scholastic.

Fleming, A.M. (2007). The magical life of Long Tack Sam. New York: Penguin.

Jeffrey, G., & Petty, K. (2005). Abraham Lincoln: The life of America’s 16th president (M. Lacey, Illus.). New York: Rosen.

Kinney, J. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Sis, P. (2007). The wall: Growing up behind the Iron Curtain. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Smith, J. Bone series.

Fifth Grade Boys Reading Preferences