Showing posts with label boys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label boys. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Why are boys falling behind in reading?

The National Literacy Trust has revealed that boys are falling behind in reading. Sixty thousand boys aren’t reaching the required levels of reading at 11 and three out of four schools in the UK are concerned about boys’ reading. Lots of boys reckon reading is boring, girly and "geeky" and prefer watching TV or playing computer games to settling down with a good book.

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?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The alarming rise of SMOGs and why boys are brilliant too

I know it’s the silly season but this week’s newspaper stories about mothers who only want daughters really take the biscuit.

The papers are reporting a rise in the number of mums who are horrified by the thought of raising boys and reckon girls rule. First spotted by Mumsnet last year, they’ve been dubbed the Smug Mothers of Girls (or SMOGs for short).

One mother (presumably of boys) was so horrified by the SMOG phenomenon that she wrote: “I find that some mums who only have girls find boys annoying and are alarmed and judgmental about their behaviour. They tut when boys chase pigeons in the park or shout nearby.”

My lovely son (and no, I’m really not biased) celebrated his 17th birthday yesterday so for what it’s worth, I thought I’d throw in my opinion. He’d be the first to agree that he’s slightly chaotic but he’s also incredibly kind, funny, independent-minded and a mine of quirky information. Yesterday, thanks to him, I learned about the intricate detail that goes into constructing a BMX ramp, discovered a website called Cracked (he calls it “an exciting menagerie of factual articles”) and debated the pros and cons of Aerogel, a new insulating material.

Over the years he’s terrified the living daylights out of me with his scary biking exploits (one of which resulted in a collar bone broken in three places and several stints in hospital) but I couldn’t be prouder of him. Hmmm. Reading back over this, I’m definitely in danger of turning into a DMOB (Defensive Mother of a Boy).

PS: We’d planned to celebrate my son’s big day with a special breakfast on the half-built terrace at the House with No Name. My husband rushed off at dawn to buy croissants and pains au chocolat but when he got back the removal man had arrived from Oxford. He was supposed to be joined by a local monsieur called Remy – but Remy never showed up. So we all pitched in to help, my son marking the first few hours of his anniversaire by lugging sofas, tables and beds in the scorching sun. Did he utter a word of complaint? He's a boy. Of course he didn’t.

PPS: He’s given me his permission to write this!  
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