Friday, February 09, 2007

Boys, Education, and Reading

When I began writing action-adventures and mysteries for boys, about five years ago, I’d like to say that I was fully informed about the road ahead. I wasn’t that smart. What I did know, based on my research of a couple hundred books for my target age group, 8 – 13, was that I didn’t find much material that would have interested me when I was that age.

This had been the problem, I believe, that led me to avoid reading whenever possible. It was only after I had written several manuscripts, and a couple of the books had been published, that I became better informed.

I found that boys tend to be a bit behind the girls in areas of reading and math. As I spoke in schools, and asked if there was anyone who didn’t like to read, many of the boys’ hands went up. When I asked why, they gave pretty consistent answers, no matter where I went.

Then, very recently, I learned a new term. Again, this has become somewhat controversial, but here it is anyway: The Feminization of Education. The first person to tell me this term was Dr. Ray Moore. He heads an organization called Exodus Mandate. The mission is to inform parents so that they will remove their students from public schools and place them in private, Christian, or homeschools. You can find more information about Exodus Mandate at:

I began to do a little research, and uncovered the following web sites. While I don’t personally stand behind any one of them, I found the information extremely interesting, as it relates to why boys have difficulty in finding reading enjoyable.

Business Week - The New Gender Gap

ABC - Can Boys Really Not Sit Still in School?

Supporting Our Sons

Teaching Our Boys

Learning About Educating Boys Better

Stop Feminizing our Schools - Our Boys Are Suffering

Illinois Loop - Gender Bias

LEARN NC - Reading is for the Boys (and Girls)

These sites provide eye-opening statistics, and real world, classroom examples. No wonder boys don’t like to read, most of them would rather be outside playing instead of sentenced to sit at their desks and “behave.”

The more I am able to get my message out about how my books address some of the problems, concerning the lack of interest, on the part of boys, in reading, the more I see doors opening.


Jo Ann said...

Hi, Max. I'm glad to see you doing a blog and sharing resources that parents and teachers might use with their students.

I have posted info about it in my blog:
and hope that will lead some folks to your site.

Jo Ann Hakola, The Book Faerie

J. L. Bell said...

When did this "feminization" of education occur, and how does that timing correlate with literary trends?

After all, most US elementary school teachers have been women for a century or so. If anything, more men have started teaching the early grades in the last few decades than in the previous generation.

Did boys used to have more to read, or are expectations for them changing?

Terry Burns said...

Good job, Max, I linked to it in my blog at my website as well. Now we need to get busy and get some product out there to pull the boys into reading, specifically your books.


Crystal said...

Hi, Max, Will certainly pass this link on to appropriate people and since I have four boys (mine are now 22,20,18,16) and was a P.E. and elementary classroom teacher, these are all issues I've been involved in.

As far as the questions that j.l.bell asked--there ARE more male teachers in the elementary level now than in the last 20 years(especially in primary grades,) but before 1990s I would've said the opposite. No matter. The book market in general has changed dramatically in the last 20 years and society in general is more antagonistic to boys/males these days. Men are made to look "stupid" by media and commercials these days.