Focus of Interview:

  • At What level is the biggest concern?
  • What would you say is your most popular book?
  • What inspired you to Write Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys?
  • What advice would you give parents?
  • What are 3 or 4 things a teacher can do with struggling readers?
  • What advice do you have for librarians?

Transcript of the Interview

Audio Interview with Author Jeffrey Wilhelm _ Getting Boys To Read
  • Title: Jeff Wilhelm Interview
  • Length: 17:18 minutes (5.94 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Stereo 22kHz 48Kbps (CBR)

Question 1: Tell us about your background and how it influenced you with boys and literacy

Time: 0:47


  • Reading as a kid
  • Challenges as a teacher
  • The need for kids to become engaged
  • Dissertation on kids struggling with reading, led to You Gotta Be the Book
  • Facts across the world about boys underachieving girls
  • That study with his colleague, Michael Smith led to another book, Going With the Flow

Question 2: At What level is the biggest concern?

Time: 3:20


  • Study of 18,000 kids by McKenna; 90% felt they were a reader until 5th or 6th grade
  • Lost sense that they were readers
  • His theory based off of his study

Question 3: What would you say is your most popular book?

Time: 5:17


  • Improving Comprehension With Think Alouds – 125,000 copies sold
  • You Gotta Be the Book – 50,000 copies sold
  • Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys – 40,000 copies sold

Question 4: What inspired you to Write Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys

Time: 6:05


  • Working with kids in the classroom and seeing what they struggle with
  • Listening to kids and their concerns
  • Boys are not typically engaged in literacy
  • Many kids labeled LD are boys
  • He looked at the data. It was compelling al over the world
  • His questions as a teacher – Why and What can you do about it? •
  • 5 years of planning and studying 52 boys

Question 5: What advice would you give parents?

Time: 8:04


  • People read for a purpose – to do work, to get things done, to do something, go somewhere, etc..
  • Important to tap into kids pre existing interests
  • Parents should have books available at home
  • Read aloud to your kids
  • Example – talk with them at breakfast about newspaper
  • Kids seek relationships. Make reading about a shared interest
  • Have a wider view of reading
  • Discuss what reading can do for them

Question 6: What are 3 or 4 things a teacher can do with struggling readers?

Time: 11:20


  • Make your teaching matter – boys want to learn about significant things to them
  • Make reading help them with their lives
  • Don’t assign work that you wouldn’t want to do
  • Help kids through the challenges. Give them the support they need. Make sure they know you will help them be successful
  • Do meaningful projects around reading
  • The most important thing is to organize reading around meaningful inquiry. His book, Engaging Readrs and Writers with Inquiry explore those concepts
  • Inquiry based reading helps kids retain the information years later

Question 7: What advice do you have for librarians?

Time: 14:30


  • Absolute crime every school doesn’t have a full time librarian
  • Greatest supporter of literacy, greatest resource for teachers
  • Schools should be based off of libraries – engaged in research
  • The librarian is a “Super Teacher” in any school
  • Advice – Keep on Keeping On, keep talking about the issues, support each other, give voice to the kids, keep issues abouyt the library in play at the school board level,
  • “Librarians have to be like the Lorax, otherwise, nobody is speaking for the trees”
  • Always focus on what is best for kids!

 Be sure to read my book review ofReading Don’t Fix No Chevys!


John Becker (not verified)

Hey Zemlene,
I noticed that you teach in the Phillipines. Can you describe what its like teaching the boys there?


Location: Colorado, USA
Positions: Parent, Classroom Teacher, Librarian

I like your balance, TedWahler, between a strict respectable classroom environment and a loving and nurturing atmosphere.




I loved this interview. Great job with it, well done.


In reply to ayoubmarket, with all due respect the duty of the teacher is to set the “climate” of the classroom and create a safe place for learning to happen.

My opening days of every session were dedicated to communicating an iron fist policy concerning anything that made my classroom seem unsafe for any student. Once the tone was set I could switch to my natural nurturing self and facilitate learning without concern for the interference of intimidation or harassment of or by any member of the class.

What happened outside of my class I had no control of but I was determined to create an environment where no student felt unwelcome or uncomfortable. It worked.

People will always rise to the expectation set for them. Don’t be hesitant to set a high bar and give them the opportunity to achieve.


Location: Setif, Algeria
Positions: Classroom Teacher Administrator, English Teacher

According to what I hear in this interview I think reading problems are the same in all over the world, for example I am an English teacher (in Algeria) and I have a very big problems with the students; they not only do not went to read but they also make fun for those who read : they Firing Jests on each other if some one attend to read e.g “You’re a reading machine”,”Hi geek!”,”Such a brain”…

So this will make others keep away from any book just to be COOL,

This is my true story with Boys&Books



Position: data encoder

I agree most kids doesn’t like reading at all. From my observation there are a lot of reasons why they dislike reading:

Some textbooks have a very deep english grammar wherein some of these kids can’t understand some terms because they usually encounter a general level of english words.

Kids would rather play than read because it is more exciting than reading a boring book. In playing with their friends they can interact and be the one doing the action than the characters in a book.

Usually parents is not aware of their kids having poor eyesight which is one reason of kids being slow in reading.

When these kids are reading out loud slow with wrong pronunciations of words inside a classroom and their classmates laughed at them it will be a big trauma which results in having low “self-esteem”.

Actually, there are some problems with the teachers too. Since they are the ones responsible of these kids learning in school they should also know how to pronounce such words, make the lessons exciting as possible and should be patient in explaining the things their students did not understand at all.

Parents should know too what kind of friends their children are having; are they good influence or bad? They should check their children’s friends background too because it can be a main reason why kids doesn’t like to read. For some kids and parents its like a “taboo” or rather not “manly” to do.

Lastly, parents should explain to their own kids the importance of reading. But you know, kids can learn fast when they can see and hear what is the topic about to easily understand than reading books that are having very deep english words…..

Kids like visualization and application at the same time learning.


Location: Philippines

I hate to read! These words are the words that parents may often hear to their children. Many kids would do anything than read. They find reading a struggle but you, parents can encourage your kids to read. Simply, just need to connect reading with your child’s passion. You should know what topic can catch their attention. By then they can develop a love in reading.


Location: philippines
Position: Classroom Teacher

I think that Educators,librarians and parents are important factors which could affect the interest of a child to be inclined in reading or not. If these factors acted in positive way, the child will be encourage to read, otherwise, he will just ignore the fact that reading is really important to his life.

With authors like Jeff Wilhelm, we could be guided on how to deal with kids as to how to encourage them in reading. Consequently, these kids will be more productive in the future.

Personally, as a teacher in the Philippines, it is a great fact that more and more students here are slow readers, some are also fast readers but less comprehension. We, teachers tried to alleviate these problems by giving an extra effort to teach the student, specially boys who are slow readers. As you can see, it is like a domino effect, if a certain student is a slow reader, he is a slow learner as well. And he is a slow learner then it follows that this kid isn’t productive in the society in the future… He can be a great liability of the country.

Therefore, the teachers and parents should act soon to solve this worlwide problem with literacy.

Your site, Mike, is one of the solution, to alleviate this problem. thanks for helping us to be informed.


Baker  (not verified)

I agree that let kids start with reading about things they love and they often develop a love for reading in the process. Great tips!


Location: Philippines
Position: Parent

I have to agree on tapping the current interests of the kids and find a suitable book or reading material that matches their set of interests. I think this is a better way of approaching the reading issue rather than impose topics that don’t appeal to the kids.

Posted in: Adults, Content, Jeff Wilhelm

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