There are many contributing factors that help explain why boys don’t read as much as girls. The structure of the school day, the chemical differences between the sexes, the books themselves, the lack of male role models, the overwhelming majority of women who serve as gatekeepers (teachers, librarians, editors, bloggers, reviewers), and so on.
I’ve wrestled with this issue a lot lately. Numerous times I’ve attempted to address it, but always ended up unhappy with my tone of complaint. I can do negativity pretty well and far too effortlessly. I wanted to do something positive, something constructive, even if it was small and quite probably useless.
Thanks in part to an offhand comment made to me by author Lewis Buzbee (a guy who routinely imparts wisdom in casual asides), I’ve reached the conclusion that one of the most powerful, positive factors to encourage and inspire boys to read is, very simply, to see their fathers read. Look, there’s dad sitting down with a book. Any book. Fathers don’t just chop down trees, fix door jambs, and watch football. We read, too. It’s a valid male activity, like burping. Think of the power of that simple image. There’s Dad with a book in his lap.
I recently acquired the domain name, fathersread.com. The site is not up and running yet, but I’m working on it. Kind of. Slowly.
Here’s where you come in. I need photos. Pictures of men with books. It could be any photo, and the wider the variety the better. Fathers with children, fathers alone. A shot with humor in it . . . or not. A shot where the book cover is important — or not at all. Really, what I’m asking for is photos. That’s all. We’ll see where that brings us.
Please submit your photos via email to: Jamespreller@aol.com with the subject heading, FATHERS READ. Thank you. I can’t do this without your help. If you can pass this request along to others, I’d appreciate it. In the meantime, here’s an unremarkable shot from a summer vacation, just a couple of guys lounging around, doing what guys do.
For more thoughts on the Reading Gender Gap, try these links:
* The New Gender Gap by Diane Connell and Betsy Gunzelmann
* America’s Reading Gender Gap by Bill Costello
* Unchartered Territory by Kristy Valenti, on boys and comics.
* Boys and Literacy by Elizabeth Knowles and Martha Smith.
* Connecting Boys with Books 2 by Michael Sullivan.
Harry Potter. Good choice young man. I’m sure I can get some great shots of my dear husband. He’s the one that tells the boys – tv off I’m reading and OUT of my chair! lol
I’ve already received some great photos and need AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. The shots can be funny, weird, simple. At this stage, I just need variety. We’ll go for the celebrity shots down the road.
Every time I see a photo of a man reading, I think: I bet his kids will grow up to become readers.
Great idea!! As an educator I throw the challenge out to uncles and grandpas to give you a hand in this effort!
how do I send you the photos?
Bonnie, I see that you found me. It’s in the text above, in red:
Email to: Jamespreller@aol.com with the subject heading, FATHERS READ.
Thank you very much for your help. This won’t work with lots and lots of photos.
My son Dylan and I read “Bystander” together… it was a great read for both of us for plenty of reasons.
For me, I got to revisit some of the uncomfortable situations I experienced myself in grade school, and middle school. I think it helps to do this when trying to understand and manage the complex situations our own kids are dealing with.
For Dylan, he got to place himself in a situation that in my mind, sets an example for how a good kid should behave, if faced with similar challenges.
Absolutely, Dads, this is a good idea.
I have a great photo of my husband reading to our first baby girl and she is wide eyed excited about the book. Will have to hunt for it.
Reading is the one escape that costs little but has enormous benefits. Reading to all three of my own kids is a memory that will last a lifetime for each of us…even when the book isn’t so good! Although they have gotten older, I still enjoy reading daily to my class. I have always loved infusing scary voices, dramatic pauses and, when they are on the edge of their seats, pretending that I am done reading for the day. Reading is the one escape that costs so little, but the return is priceless!
I volunteer with Read Aloud Delaware and am creating a bulletin board display for the local library. I too am looking for pictures of dad’s reading with children. I already have a lot of women reading. Can you share 3 or 4 that I could print out. I love the one you have on this site.
Thanks so much for sharing. Our focus at Read Aloud is reading one on one with children.