By Guest Blogger Deneane Davis, Lower School Head, The Piedmont School

It took about 4 years of teaching kindergarten before I realized the boys in my class were bored with my favorite fairy tales with princesses who lived happily ever after.  However, they were intrigued by my science center that held books about bugs, volcanoes, and dinosaurs.  I didn’t make the connection until graduate school when I learned about the differences in the male and female brain and the implications of teaching these students.  It made sense thinking about the fact that my husband, uncles nor my dad would ever grab a romance novel as I did during my leisure time.  They would only be found with their noses in car and money magazines, newspapers, and Sports Illustrated.

So why don’t our sons like to read?……

…Because most of the adults who are reading to our boys are females. Many make the mistake I did as a novice teacher by grabbing what I liked to read instead of what peaked their interest. Thankfully, by the time I became a mother to my son, I made a conscious effort to introduce more nonfiction books about bugs, tractors, and dinosaurs.  I’ve even accepted his fascination with the silly books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series as a pre-teen now.  While I’d rather he choose books with what I consider “more substance”, I have to keep in mind the bigger picture and my purpose: I would rather foster his love of reading so that he will enjoy it as much as I do and become a life long reader.

As the Lower School Head and a tutor at The Piedmont School, I’ve helped many parents select books for their sons.  We have found that our boys love the historical fiction genre like the I Survived and Magic Tree House series.  Many of our older boys love mysteries like the Alex Rider series or the Carl Deuker sports series.  We’ve also found those who struggle in reading love graphic novels and books that have limited text on each page. We have to remember that reading anything is better than reading nothing. In order to instill a true love for reading, and to encourage reading for leisure, we can’t pass judgment on what type of book our children read. From the silly, to the graphic novel, to the cartoon section of the newspaper, finding a love for reading includes giving our children the freedom to choose what they read. We can’t always have choice in the novels or required reading at school, especially in the middle and high school years, but we can let our children make these choices for what they read at home or in their spare time.

Whether it’s our sons or daughters, what is most important is finding their interest before grabbing that title.  We have to give our students as many opportunities as we can to read what they love and for some boys who want to giggle, it may even mean reading Captain Underpants.

*Sponsored by The Piedmont School