Thursday 11 February 2016

Encouraging boys to read

I see so many articles that say boys don't read. As the mother of a boy who reads, I find this quite amusing. One of my sons reads so much that we can hardly keep up with him!!

My other son reads, just not quite as much. At 14, he has other things he wants to do, however he does love stories and is constantly listening to audio books.

To encourage a love of reading in my boys, there a number of things we have done. These include:

  • Always having books in the house - we have a large library that includes books of many different styles.
  • Let them read whatever they want - we haven't limited the books to ones deemed "age appropriate". If they want to read a picture book when they are 10, that's OK. If they want to read Harry Potter at 7, then great.
  • Find books that feed their interests - whether it's a fiction or non-fiction book, finding books that are related to their interests keeps them interested in reading, and can even spark the love of a type of book or a particular author
  • Let them read what I'm writing - I suppose my kids are lucky their mum is a children's author, but being involved in the process of writing and publishing books has also encouraged them to read. They love picking up errors in my books, and look for them in any book they read!
  • Set a challenge - my kids are competitive and there has been a number of times when I set them a reading challenge. Most recently, my 12 year old is joining me on the PopSugar reading challenge, but we've had to tweak it a bit.
  • Giving them books & book vouchers as gifts - this helps with the first point, but letting them choose a book with a book voucher or giving them a book I think they will enjoy gives them a buzz, and a new book to read.
Boys do read, we just need to make sure they have the tools to do so... so give them access to as many books as they like so they can find a love of reading.

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne with her two sons. She has a day job as a bookkeeper and in her spare time is a blogger and author.

Follow her writing journey at You can also follow her son's writing challenge at Zac Reads Books.


  1. Thanks for that interesting post Melissa. Well done for working out many different ways we could encourage boys to become readers. In my son's case, I was excited when he was 4 years old thinking he was becoming a reader. Didn't happen. At 6 I thought it would. Didn't. And so on... for many many years. My husband and I read all the time, had heaps of books in the house and I read to Asela from the time he was 6 weeks old. However, he took his time to blossom. He must have been around 19 or 20, when I found him lying in bed one day reading! :) Yep! It took him that long. But now he reads ALL THE TIME. He borrows a variety of interesting books from the library each week. So if I add one more to your list, I'd say 'Don't get disheartened if they don't pick it up rightaway. Your efforts to make them readers will bear fruit in time'. Thanks for your post Melissa! :)

    1. Great tip. There may be hope for my 14 year old to rediscover books yet :)

  2. Thanks Melissa - it's a great question 'how to get boys (or girls for that matter) interested in reading. For my both my children, it was finding the book that really spared their interest - Deltora Quest for my daughter, Diary of the Whimpy Kid for my son (he likes the combination of visual plus text as well as the humour). Even so, both my kids are picky readers - especially my son. Though that is partly his personality - he tends to invest all his passion into one thing at a time. It's a great thing to thing about :)

  3. All my boys love to read, but I have friends whose sons don't, and I don't think it is for a lack of trying (one is a librarian and it hurts her to see her adult son who doesn't enjoy books). I think we need to be careful that we don't accidentally judge people whose kids don't love reading. If our children grow to love the Bible and its author then I think that should be our greatest goal as a parent, not reading.

  4. From personal experience, I've found I agree with you, Melissa. My sons have been just as inquisitive and eager to get stuck into books and stories as my daughter during their growing years. Alas, my eldest son, who'd been the most prolific reader of all three, was lured away somewhat by the siren call of the computer gaming community. Still, his broad knowledge base and interesting conversation skills from his background of reading still shows.

  5. I agree with you. My son was and is still an avid reader. His son, now a teenager, is exactly the same. A lot comes from being surrounded by books, have parents who read to them when young and who are readers themselves.