One Reason Your Son ISN’T Reading at School

Like it? Share it!

Today’s guest author Janet Allison offers support and strategies for parents bringing up young boys.

I was delighted to have been interviewed by Janet on Friday night for the Boys Alive! On-line Event: Discover HIS World – The Map  and to hear more about all aspects of raising boys – from his education, to understanding his temperament, his learning styles, and the bigger issues that face boys and men. Explore and join in here => if you missed the interview.

Janet is committed to helping families “bring out the best in their boys” by offering family coaching and workshops. In today’s blog Janet’s looks at one of the reasons why your son may not be reading at school and  as a former Deputy Head and class teacher for over 20 years I found her insights very helpful and I hope you do too !

I remember when my own son went through his “only reading comics stage”  I didn’t panic as I relaxed and encouraged him to just enjoy reading – as it is one of life’s very important life skills and I knew it was just a phase.

Here’s Janet’s advice.

“A mum recently told me that her son LOVES to read at home and HATES to read at school. What he likes to read is not considered literature at school. Can you help?”

“Schools tend to consider a successful reader to be one who can capably read longer fiction, and then respond to questions about character and story development and that student is usually a girl.

Boys prefer stories that are:

  •  Action driven – think Star Wars – something happens, then something else happens, then they have to figure out how to make something work so that something else can happen. Little time is spent on character depth and development. This also shows up clearly in the stories boys prefer to write.
  •  Adventure-oriented – think classics like Tom Sawyer, Daniel Boone, Robinson Crusoe – adventure with a quest theme, good vs. evil, fighting with swords, guns, or testing mettle against all odds. Again, more about the action than the character’s motivations.
  • Humour-filled – think Captain Underpants – yep, boys love humor and especially if it includes body parts and body noises. If you are raising a son, you can surely relate to this: “There’s one thing you have to remember. Farts are always funny.”
  •  Fact-based – think basketball, baseball, football stats – or the boy who knows every dinosaur by name at age 3! Boys love systems and fact-based information helps them analyse, categorise, and visualise.

Comic books, magazines, instruction manuals, how-to books, short stories, and graphic novels are just some of the less conventional reading materials that boys prefer and that schools don’t consider “real” literature.

By the way, does your boy think that reading is for girls? Research shows that at home boys see their mothers and sisters reading but don’t observe their fathers and brothers reading for pleasure. Many boys tend to read more to find out information than simply reading for pleasure.

The ability to read and write well is the foundation stone of school (and college) success. He MUST experience success early and often – and that means engaging him early and often. We must do that by widening literacy choices for him, engaging his interests.

Hear more about crucial issues concerning boys during the Boys Alive! Online Event: Discover HIS World – Here’s the MAP. Beginning October 10th, experts from around the world gather to share their wisdom on all-things-boys. Dr. Thomas Newkirk, author of “Misreading Masculinity – Boys, Literacy, and Popular Culture” and Michael Gurian, author of “The Wonder of Boys” are among the featured speakers. Register for this free full-access on-line event at

More about Janet Allison

As a parent educator, Janet knows that while parents are often overly-prepared for the arrival of a baby, they are often under-prepared for the life-long task of parenting. She helps parents gain the skills they need to raise children who are confident and capable.

Janet has written Boys Alive! Bring Out Their Best! a compendium of relevant research coupled with practical strategies. Through both the Boys Alive! book and the workshops she teaches, Janet helps parents and teachers understand the unique learning and social needs of boys and how to create a supportive environment so they can thrive.

Janet is also a Waldorf teacher and Educational Consultant. Meet Janet via her website here:


Related Articles

The Sue Atkins

Parenting Show

Discussing every possible aspect of parenting, giving you advice and support on topics which affect your daily life. Each free, weekly episode is bursting with practical tips, techniques and ideas.

Hi, I'm Sue Atkins

I will teach you my no-nonsense, simple techniques & give you hundreds of my expert parenting articles, videos & podcasts so you can get back to the business of having fun with your family!

As Seen or heard in