For many adults, helping a boy find the right book can be a very hard task. This article showcases techniques that I have fine tuned during my 14 years in teaching; 4 as elementary teacher, 6 as an elementary school librarian, and 4 as a librarian  at an at-risk high school.

#1) Tap His Interests (the biggest tip)

Ask him about current hobbies & interests. Ask about his favorite sports team, athlete, musician, etc. Most boys prefer nonfiction.

#2) Take Him to a Library or Bookstore

Once there, let him get a book of his choice.

#3) Show Him 3 Books, Then Leave

Get off your caboose and walk him to the books, literally. Once you help him find 3 books then give him time, in private, to go through them.

#4) Don’t Talk His Ear Off

Boys are not as auditory as girls. Have nice, SHORT, conversations about reading. Instead of one 15 minute discussion, break it apart into five 3 minute conversations spread out over a week or so. Never lecture.

#5) Engage Him Physically – Make a Pile

Gather a handful of books that may be of interest to him. Pile them up on a table, all mixed up with the covers facing up. Boys often like the dig through them.

#6) Build Your Knowledge

There are a TON of books that are popular with guys. The more titles you know, the better. Learn about the issues involved by reading articles throughout our web site.

#7) Be Persistent & Patient

Sometimes it takes weeks, months, or even years to get a boy to read. If you hang in there with him, he will likely come around sooner or later. I was almost 30 years old when I finally "saw the light."

#8) Use His Hormones

Encourage older boys to talk to girls about books. Although girls’ interests will likely be different, boys like to impress girls and show off. If you are a librarian or teacher, get girls to talk to boys. One on one sessions usually work better instead of group settings. Remind boys that many girls are impressed when they see guys reading.

#9) Engage Him in Conversations, but Respect His Privacy

If prompted, a lot of boys like to talk about things they read. Sometimes, however boys can be embarrassed about their reading ability or lack of interest. Encourage him to talk with you, his buddies, or classmates about reading. Just don’t force him.

#10) Make Reading Fun

When you talk about books and reading, make it fun – smile, be happy. Joke around with him about books.

#11) Encourage Various Genres

Offer that he tries a magazine, comic book, newspaper, web site, graphic novel, science fiction, adventure, biograpahy, etc.

#12) Don’t Give Up

I’m sad to say this, but I hated to read as a kid. My impression was that reading was hard, boring, and not for boys. If only more adults in my life would have smothered me with books that I liked rather then ones that they liked. I probably would have grown up with a better attitude and self image about reading. Getting some boys to read can be a difficult task. If you are dedicated and strive to learn more, he will appreciate it some day even if he doesn’t tell you.

What Tips Do You Know?

Please help me improve this list. Add your comment with a skill or technique that will help a boy find the rights books.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Paul Gray

    I would be very interested in finding a source for quality graphic novels.  I usually buy books from eBay because I can get hard cover books really cheap.  I think the hard cover gives an impression of importance.  Anyway, I am reluctant to buy graphic novels from eBay because I am concerned about inappropriate content.  Any suggestions for sources would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  • boolagunilla

    This post had me smiling..well actually I was laughing…I have an 8 yr old son..I he is not so into reading much…but he does only when he feels like it..while I’m a bookworm. Whenever he sees me reading through my novels or anything at hand, it could be an old newspaper, he would usually ask me why I read a lot and I tell the truth that I just like the feeling of reading. As I was going through this post, I remember that one of the reason I got into reading was that my mom used to nagged on me when I was a kid. She was telling me that reading would make me smart, soon enough I was reading too much that she practically have to beg me to stop. I could memorize every page of my school books cause I read to much. And now with my son, I honestly get that habit of nagging him into reading..lol..sometimes it works but after reading these tips . I think I have to have that "talk" on check….hahah..I think that nagging only worked for me when I was a kid but you are right that it might not work for my kid..Thanks for the tips..

    Reply
  • Lisa

    Being the mother of two boys, getting them to read is always a challenge. I have found that if I take them with me to the library that they wander around a long while and just as I am about to check out my books they will bring me two or three books to check out also. I told my oldest fourteen year old son about the top 100 books to read in the world and believe it or not he searched out the number one book on the list… Don Quixote by Cervantes. He didn’t read it all but at least it gave him some exposure to a tried and true classic. He likes math and science and sports so generally those are th types of books he’s drawn to. My other son age ten likes adventure books.

    Reply
  • Mike McQueen

    Thanks for your comment Chris. Yes, many many teacher do not understand the value in graphic novels. Perhaps many have issues with comic books as well.

    Reply
  • Anonymous

    I think you should amend your blanket statement that, “most boys prefer nonfiction.” I think that’s a stereotype. I also think it’s easier to say most boys prefer nonfiction rather than take the time to find fiction that they’ll like. I understand that more fiction is geared toward girls, but that just makes it more important to find fiction that boys will be interested in. I also think boys are more drawn to nonfiction because it’s non-threatening. A book about building rockets isn’t going to get a boy made fun of by his peers the way a book about vampires might.

    Reply
  • chris

    Hey,
    I’ve seen you on twitter and agree with your comments.

    Am a school library media specialist in a middle school with almost 60% boys.

    Many teachers (if not all) in my building shudder when their students borrow graphic novels. Hey, reading is reading. At least they find something they WANT to read. Recreational reading keeps the engines well-oiled for heavier reading in the content areas.

    Looking forward to reading more of your stuff.
    Regards,
    Chris

    I am infodiva on twitter.
    I am also LibraryRoom401 on twitter.

    Reply
  • Anonymous

    I also think it’s easier to say most boys prefer nonfiction rather than take the time to find fiction that they’ll like. I understand
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    I understand that more fiction is geared toward girls, but that just makes it more important to find fiction that boys will be interested in.

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