momlogic's Vivian: Last Sunday, a New York Times op-ed columnist, Nicholas Kristof, wrote about some recent research findings: The academic chasm between boys and girls is rapidly widening in our country.
As we reported recently, a new report from the Center on Education Policy revealed that boys have fallen behind in reading in every single state. Among its findings: Seventy-nine percent of elementary-school girls could read at a level deemed "proficient," compared with 72 percent of boys. Similar gaps were found in middle school and high school. In every state, in each of the three school levels, girls did better on average than boys.
Kristof's article then goes on to explore a variety of theories with respect to the boy lag, but one potential remedy in particular stuck out: "to encourage lowbrow, adventure or even gross-out books that disproportionately appeal to boys." He says, "If [making the best use of human capital by encouraging boys to read] means nurturing [them] with explosions, that's a price worth paying."
As the concerned mom of a young male reader, I'm on board with this theory. My kid is a voracious reader at home, and his dad and I spend a small fortune at bookstores in order to feed him enough material to cater to his interests -- be they Pokémon or how to mummify odd objects.
But at school, he could care less about sitting still long enough to read when there are friends to hang with and blocks to build with. And he'll often shuttle the same small selection of "recommended" reading material back and forth between home and school for months, because there aren't enough books that are deemed emotionally appropriate that aren't also too easy for him to read.
Frustrating? YES. It's not like his teacher is going to ask for his five-finger recall about a Pokémon guide -- no matter what level it's at. Should schools consider this and venture just a step beyond the traditionally pimped materials to be more inclusive of young boys' interests?
Mothers of sons, what say you? Do you feel your school provides your young male reader with material that keeps him engaged and interested in reading? Or is getting your son interested in school reading tough? Share your thoughts below!
|Vivian Manning-Schaffel serves as momlogic's East Coast Editor. She has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. She authors two pop culture blogs: The Mad Mom and A Hag Supreme, and is on the web at vivianmanningschaffel.com.|