Getting boys reading

One argument in favour of gender labels on children’s books is to get boys into reading. According to the OECD:

Girls outperform boys in reading in all countries and economies by the equivalent of one year of school.

One way of combating this imbalance is by creating more books specifically for boys, to encourage and therefore enhance the boys’ reading experience. Studies have been carried out to find out which type of books boys would choose, and (according to Coles & Hall), the preferences are:

  • 10yrs old: adventure, humour, football
  • 12yrs old: war, science, fantasy, horror
  • 14yrs old: much more diverse and difficult to predict

It has also been suggested that boys are much less likely to pick up a book they consider to be ‘girly’ or intended for girls, whereas girls are less perturbed by indications of a ‘boyish’ book. But why is this? And should publishers be publishing books particularly for boys to get them reading, or should we be encouraging children to read any book that takes their fancy?



7 thoughts on “Getting boys reading

  1. It’s also worth noting that many studies have shown that boys DO read, often just as much as girls, but just that they read in genres that aren’t necessarily recognised by school curriculums.

    Boys reading tastes tend to focus on a lot of non-fiction, joke books and and activity-based books. Girls tend to read more fiction titles- which is often more heavily featured in schools. So I don’t think its so much a question of “why aren’t boys reading” as, “why aren’t they reading fiction?”. I think a lot of that has to do, again, with the particular packaging of Fiction books vs. Non fiction books.


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