Like boys and action, reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Both are critical skills for literacy. It is through writing that boys will learn to formulate thoughts and improve their creativity and thinking skills.

Unfortunately boys who are reluctant to do one, usually resist the other as well. Here are five ideas, that utilize activities and interests that most appeal to boys, to get them writing:


#1 Involve Their Interests

‘Write what you know’ is one of the basic guidelines. This is especially important to remember when encouraging boys who are reluctant to write, since pushing them outside of comfort zones can be overwhelming. Place value on boys’ interests and the knowledge which they already have by encouraging them to write about their hobbies, favorite topics or other activities.

#2 The Wonder of What-ifs

Boys often think of “make-believe” and “playing pretend” as “girl” activities. Since they encourage imagination, boys who resist those activities are missing out on creative opportunities. With a game of “what-ifs” boys can be encouraged to explore their imagination too.

After reading a book or watching a movie together, ask your student or son, “what do you think would have happened if…” and present him with a different plot development. Encourage him to ask his own “what-if” questions and then write down his thoughts. The freedom to change a story to his liking will make it fun!

#3 Involve Technology

Projects that include computers and technology are an instant hit with boys. We know they already use computers for social activities. While they are on chat and game sites, encourage boys to explore the writing opportunities that are just a click away. As we’ve discussed before, the internet provides communities, inspiration and motivators that can engage boys with writing.

#4 Utilize Artwork

Pictures and images can be great motivators for boys who are visual learners. The images give them a concrete beginning to build on, which is less frustrating for them than abstract ideas.

Ask your student or son to draw a picture of an activity he enjoys or his favorite characters from a comic, movie or book. Next ask him to tell the story of what is happening in his picture – encourage him to include backstory and what he thinks will happen next. Artwork can also be utilized for boys who are resistant to drawing. Ask them to find a picture they like in a magazine or book and to write about that instead. 

#5 Genres Rule!

If boys do not enjoy reading fiction, they most likely will not enjoy writing it either. Make it okay for them to write other genres – non-fiction, science fiction, mysteries, etc.

Include the sports they like to play or watch. Encourage them to be a Sports Writers and write a recap of the baseball game they watched on Saturday afternoon. If your son enjoys mysteries, ask him to be a Detective (complete with a Detective hat and notepad) and find something that is missing in your house. Most likely the initial search mission will take him on an adventure that he will be eager to write about and share later.


These ideas can be adapted for the age and writing level of your student or son. The possible variations are endless. Once you have their interest, involve reading by recommending books with topics similar to the ones about which they wrote. Reading will help make them better writers. With your encouragement and creativity, you can help motivate boy writers.



Posted in: Content

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Kristen for such great, practical ideas to get boys writing. I am going to try asking the boys in my class to recap a baseball game. I think they will we inspired to pick up a pen.

  • veenu

    how can a three year old child can be motivated to write?

  • Kristen Bevilacqua

    Hi Veenu,

    Thanks for your comment. With a 3 yr old, you could begin by giving him more opportunities for expression. Children that young may not be able to read or write yet, but they can be encouraged to draw a scene they saw or imagined, or orally tell a story. Good luck!

  • Steve ANgel

    You have some great tips here! I’d just like to add mcse 2008 certification that it’s never too late to read aloud to a child, but if your child does not want you to do so anymore, it’s still so important for parents and teachers to model a love of reading themselves. If children see adults reading to themselves and spending time at the library, they mcse test will be more likely to view reading as an enjoyable activity.

    There are books out there (for every type of reader) just waiting to be found! With a little bit of time and effort, you’ll be well on your way to raising a lifelong reader.mcsa 2008

  • Paul Gray

    Hello Kristen,

    I do agree with what you have written.  Technology certainly provides a great hook for reading.  I like to have the students make podcasts for a variety of topics.  They share their thoughts about what they have read, explain the nonfiction topic they just finished reading, summarize chapters in science and social studies texts and even create vocabulary podcasts.  The scholars are self-directed in these activities after a short time.  It’s really easy using free software from Audacity and short music clips to add interest to the beginning and end of the podcast.  These can be found at a variety of websites, too.  Video book reviews are also popular, but some students don’t like to see themselves in the videos.  All of these products require the writing of a script.  The students work individually or collaboratively and edit and revise as they would for traditional writng assignments.  They are certainly writing, but since the final product isn’t a paper, it doesn’t seem like such a chore.


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