It’s a perennial problem and every teacher I know is desperate to get to grips with it. Earlier this week prolific novelist and former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo wrote an insightful piece in the Guardian suggesting strategies like introducing a “dedicated half hour” at the end of every primary school day devoted to “the simple enjoyment of reading and writing” and regular visits from storytellers, theatre groups, writers and librarians.
It’s excellent advice, but then again it’s not exactly rocket science and many schools are already doing all this. And what about older boys? At 17, my son would far rather be getting on his bike or playing on the Xbox, even though he was a voracious reader when he was younger.
Part of the reason for his early enthusiasm, I’m sure, was that we’re all mad on reading in our house and every room is piled high with books. So when he saw the rest of us reading, he simply joined in.
We had weekly trips to the library, spent loads of Saturday mornings in the bookshop and over the years reading became part of his DNA – not quite as important as biking, but nearly. He liked ripping yarns full of action, adventure and daring deeds so he worked his way through all Anthony Horowitz’s novels, as well as Robert Muchamore’s Cherub series, Charlie Higson’s Young Bond trilogy and Joe Craig’s Jimmy Coates adventure books.
So instead of handing over responsibility for boys’ reading to schools, I reckon parents should be doing their bit too. But as for keeping boys' enthusiasm for reading going in their mid-teens, I’m stuck for ideas. Any suggestions?