Preparing Boys for Life.

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Boys as readers
Deb Gavin, Third Grade Teacher

Haverford teachers capitalize on opportunities to practice reading throughout the school day, across curricular genres in traditional and novel ways. Boys hone their reading skills during guided reading and shared reading groups, as well as through science experiments and social studies research units. It is not uncommon to see students sprawled across the floor working in cooperative groupings reading directions to play a math game, or execute a code. Boys can often be found sitting in the foyers reading scripts, practicing fluent prosodic reading effortlessly while having fun. The School’s design thinking initiative provides innovative opportunities to practice critical thinking and learning skills, steeped in reading and writing. 

The following tips can help engage boys as readers and writers:
 
Model, model, model. Boys need to view important people in their lives as readers, especially men. Read with and to your boys. Newspaper and magazine articles or even the comics are short 
reads! Talk about what you are reading. Classroom teachers model fluent, prosodic reading through teacher read-alouds every day. 

Make reading relevant. Connect the necessity of reading to authentic real world situations and occupations. You’re hungry? Let’s read this recipe and figure out how to make dinner. Reading and understanding directions are critical for accurate execution of a task. Classroom teachers read directions and highlight key words. Then they ask students to paraphrase what they read. 

Capitalize on boys’ interests. Boys will read on topics that they are interested in. Classroom teachers take reading interest inventories. Pairing a fiction and nonfiction book on that topic broadens student background knowledge.

Boys need to view important people in their lives as readers, especially men. Read with and to your boys. Classroom teachers model fluent, prosodic reading through teacher read-alouds every day. 

Surround boys with books, physically and digitally.  Leave books on the coffee table, in the car, and in their bedroom. Countless reading apps can be utilized to read on the go. Classroom teachers display books in genre baskets to entice their readers and use sites like Reading A-Z, Epic!, and Whooo's Reading to support reading practice on each student’s instructional  level.

Make reading experiential. Take a trip to a museum or historical site related to the curriculum the boys are or will be studying. Experiential learning builds empathy and helps students conceptualize ideas in content related texts while building background knowledge. Classroom teachers schedule class trips and lectures to support curriculum and give students an opportunity to experience history firsthand.

Build a reading relationship. We read to communicate and understand and share ideas. Reading with your child builds a bond that is everlasting. Last year while reading the book Fort by Cynthia DeFelice, I realized that many of my students had never had the experience of building a fort. Dr. Duska and I helped them build a fort, and the book took on new meaning for the readers.