When Boys Hate to Read

I included jokes into Fun Friday activities by asking kids to choose their favorite 3 jokes or riddles and then write down why they were funny.

For P-3, No Lexile level available
Ask any parent or teacher how most boys feel about books and reading and you’ll get the same answer – they’re not very interested! In fact, many boys say they hate to read! This week on my You Tube channel, Creating Smart Readers (link to the right), I read The Araboolies of Liberty Street. I first discovered this book when I was taking a university class called Boys and Books. It was listed with many others in the course textbook. I purchased a set of 10 books to use with the third and fourth grade students in my reading groups using the Read-Aloud guide that I created. Boys comprised most of my student groups and, instead of their usual lament that they hate reading, they actually loved it! The trick to enticing boys to read is to find books and stories that they like.

Here is a free downloadable partial Read-Aloud guide. The Araboolies of Liberty Street Partial Guide  The complete guide is included in my jumbo book, Creating Smart Readers, link to the right.

Benefits of Reading Aloud to Boys

Studies show that boys are up to 2 years behind girls in Reading.  No wonder they hate reading – it is always too hard for them.  But, we can turn it around by reading great “boy” stories to them. This link is to a 2018 article in Psychology Today regarding boys and reading.


Boys and girls pay an emotional price for lagging behind their peers in Reading. Here is the link to a previous Blog that I wrote on that topic. Poor Readers Pay an Emotional Price

So here’s to squashing the dislike of reading and to getting the boys excited about books today! I am listing some books that boys like.  If you read the books in the way described in the Read-Aloud guides, you will:

  • Debunk the boys hate reading idea
  • Arouse curiosity in books
  • Get boys excited about books
  • Build vocabulary
  • Motivate boys to read on their own
  • Enhance thinking skills

Here are a few books that I think boys will like.  Please watch reading levels if you want your children to read on their own.  Since some books do not have available Lexile levels (reading levels), please look at them first. Better yet, read them with your child and talk about them first. Remember, you are their first and best reading guide. They will mimic the way you think out loud when you read to them.

  • Mighty, Mighty Construction Site (P-1, Lexile 710) – look at the chart on the right for the disparity in recommended grade/age and the reading level.
  • Cowboy Camp (P-2)
  • If I Built a Car (Gr 3-5)
  • I Stink (P-3, Lexile 300)
  • If I Were a Kid During the Civil War (Gr 2-4, Lexile 630)
  • Choose Your Own Adventure Series (Gr 4+)
  • Matt Christopher Sports Series (usually Gr 3/4+)

Boys Love All Things Military

For 2-5, Lexile 990
Whether they were boys who thought they hated reading or not – all the boys in my elementary and high school groups (especially those who struggled most with reading) were enthralled with books about the military.  We split the period with a skill lesson and time for independent reading in comfy camp chairs that I put in a quiet corner. The military books were always chosen first.

For the best result in reading Dazzle Ships, I would suggest that an adult read to and with a child and talk about the illustrations and ideas together.  Notice that this book has quite a high reading level.

paperbackMy paperback book, Be a Reading Hero, is available now at https://www.amazon.com/dp/171803525X.

I hand picked every picture book inside and each one includes a detailed Read-Aloud Guide.

Show kids how exciting books can be when you read and talk about them together.  You are the model, the guide, who is  “thinking out loud” when reading.  Your kids will mimic as they, too, become smart-thinking readers.

The books in the Magic Tree House series are always a good choice. They are generally good for grades 1/2 – 4 with Lexiles that range from 450-580, but the Fact Checker books are higher in Lexile levels. Please, please, please know your child’s reading level and help them choose books appropriately which will encourage better engagement in reading.  For struggling kids, I often recommend a lower leveled book that will make the reading easier – hence, build their confidence and pride in completing a book.


Boys Get Excited About Telling Jokes

The National Geographic Kids joke books are my all-time favorite for kids – especially for boys. The suggested grade level and Lexile levels vary from grade 2 to 7 and 400  to 740 Lexile levels.  Here’s what I say about that.

In my 18 years in the elementary school, I purchased hundreds of these books for my Reading Room and for gifts for the children.  They were especially well received by my 4th grade boys.  I was lucky enough to receive a large grant to purchase materials for my high school Reading Room and included many of these joke books in my order.  The teens loved them too – especially the boys.  This link will bring you to another Blog that I posted earlier. Using Jokes and Riddles

One reason I believe joke books are so beneficial is that they are short to read (especially for struggling readers who shy away from longer texts). Also, they make kids think.  Young children and teens have to “get” the joke in order to think it is funny.  That skill requires making an inference – to think about the hidden meaning of the joke.  Why is it so funny?  I included jokes into Fun Friday activities by asking kids to choose their favorite 3 jokes or riddles and then write down why they were funny. We finished the period by sharing our jokes and writing.

Please feel free to contact me about any concerns or questions you may have about your boy readers. I hope that the Read-Aloud guides are helpful and I hope that you and your boys love them.

“Happy Reading!