The Best Book for Boys (How to engage boys in reading in ways that will change their lives) by Pam Allyn is definitely a must have in your resource library!
As I read this book I found myself nodding in agreement, raising my eyebrows at other parts and saying oh yeah- that’s a good idea, and starring so may parts that I want to remind myself about, and come back to, to re-read- and that was all in the first 32 pages!!
The majority of the book is an annotated book list. Honestly, I am usually not a fan of a book that has a book list in it because I find that it becomes outdated so quickly, or I have to go online and look up what each book is about because it is just in a category without an annotation. BUT, when I went to this list I was excited! This list was annotated, it was broken down into categories, it was all ready for me to just mark the books I wanted for my classroom library and buy them. No additional research needed- for busy teachers this is just what I needed.
Since I was so excited about this book (I honestly can’t wait until next year to implement some ideas and get some new books into my classroom library- and we haven’t even finished this school year!), I thought I would share with you a brief overview of some of the interesting points that I read about in this book.
This statement really hit me when I read it, “we are not giving boys the books they want to read. We are not giving them enough time to read them… we must give boys choices in their reading lives, and make the classroom an opportunity for readers at different levels and with a variety of reading interests to thrive.”- This is so true!
Here are some of the points that stuck with me as I read:
- We have to give all students, and especially boys, choice in what they read. So much of our curriculum and schooling is geared to girls as learners and readers.
- In order to give students choice in what they read, we have to fill our libraries with a diverse range of topics.
- Share with students many different read alouds, not just our typical chapter books, but non-fiction books, websites, sections of magazine articles- we need to show kids that reading is all over!
- Your library should have 30% nonfiction books, 30% poetry and 40% fiction. I know I need to up my non-fiction and poetry. Now, with these book lists I know what I want to add to balance my library out more.
- Everyone reads differently, for me it is on my comfy couch curled with a cup of tea, for others it may be standing. When we go to the library, there is an area for the kids to sit on bean bag chairs and read. There are a few students who will stand for 45 min to an hour reading. I always ask them, do you want to sit down? Are you OK? And that is just how they read- not everyone reads the same way!
- I have written about this before, but the whole class novel has convinced boys not to read! “ The whole class novel is the single most deadly bullet aimed directly at boys’ impulse to read.” As teachers we like control of the book, but we have to foster reading and choice through literature circles and independent reading.
- Giving kids time to read independently is important. My kids read on average 35-40 minutes per night. The first few weeks of school I told them to read 10 minutes, and then we slowly increased the time. That way they were able to feel successful as readers and could accomplish their goal.
- Let kids see that you are so proud of them for reading. As kids enter and exit my room, I am always asking them about the book they are reading, how is it? Did they like this part? If they tell me they finished I make a big fuss of them- kids love it!
- “Encourage men to come visit your classroom who have varied reading passions. Let the boys see a strong grown man read a simple picture book, or a tender story about fearing going to sleep.” Love this idea!
- Form an all- boy book club within a class. I would love to ask a male teacher to lead this!
- Let boys read “light” books such as Captain Underpants. This helps boys build stamina, independence and their confidence grows as they find they are able to finish books.