Boy Reading Scores Rise in UK – What About the USA?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I saw this news come across one of the feeds of the day about boys in the UK closing the gap on reading:

Boys are no longer lagging behind girls when it comes to reading ability, according to a new report. After examining the reading habits of over 210,000 primary and secondary school children from 1,237 schools across the UK, the What Kids are Reading 2012 report found that the gap between girls' and boys' reading abilities appears to be closing.

I’m not sure how the Brits are accomplishing this, but I don't see any signs of such changes here. What I am seeing is tremendous reading resistance from the boys, like they are wearing raincoats keeping them protected from reading.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a boy captivated by a book (beyond “Captain Underpants”). How often do you see your boys engrossed in a book (even an ebook)?

Reading as it is taught in the USA seems not to be capturing anyone’s attention. As a teacher if you have to be so focused on a test score to protect your job or the school’s reputation, can anyone ignite a legitimate passion for such an “old school” activity like reading?

A teacher friend of mine grew disenchanted with teaching after being in the business for over 25 years. She wasn’t tired of teaching, she was fed up with the state of the art. She noted that in her school any reading of literature was strictly forbidden. Teachers could not veer one inch away from the “evidence-based curriculum.” Only the prescribed passages written for the text would be allowed with scripted interactions that the teacher had to follow to the letter. 

If you take the oxygen out of the room, if you don’t ignite children’s passion with captivating literature then you get are bored, disconnected faces that could care less about reading. 

Perhaps some reading scores will rise after the kids have been schooled on the test, but the boys’ passion and joy meter will continue to  plummet, as they escape to the next video game.

Who could blame them?


ignite the passion!

Interesting. I guess I'm lucky that my school doesn't only shove prescribed reading down my students' throats. However, it is still hard to get some of my boys to read. I've jumped through hoops to motive and get them interested in something - anything! These lines hit home for me: "If you take the oxygen out of the room, if you don’t ignite children’s passion with captivating literature then you get are bored, disconnected faces that could care less about reading." So true with everything we do in the classroom!


Appreciate the comments.  I know none of this is going on around your universe!!!  Hope all is well with you.

Uk boys reading

The gap is closing becuase boys are being encouraged to read everything and anything ( including Captain underpants! Lol) they are given a lot of freedom to choose, their choices are not mocked or compared. If a child doesn't like the school reading book they can swap it and are not 'made' to continue reading something that just isn't th wright choice for them. Also British children get much much less homework, emphasis is on  reading, spelling and times tables. I am shocked at how much homework Americans get. Although I have to say some infant and junior schools (4-11yrs) are trying to impose more homework, some parents want it, I however am fighting it on behalf of my children and my sanity! Lol


Thanks for the comment, Paula.  I agree with much of what your are saying especially the part about much less homework and more actual reading.

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