Last year Lisa Bloom wrote How to Talk to Little Girls, a piece that discussed how people generally like to comment on how pretty a young girl is when they meet her. Bloom is back with a new piece, How to Talk to Little Boys, that’s just as stellar.
Lisa was hanging out with Oliver, the twelve-year-old son of her friend, when she asked him if he likes reading:
“Do you like reading, Oliver?” I asked him.
“Sure,” he said, unconvincingly, in that way kids tell you the answer they know you want to hear.
“Well, like, if there’s nothing else to do, it’s okay,” he allowed. “Like if you can’t play sports or watch video games or play with your friends.”
There’s a ringing endorsement.
Bloom explored the idea further, and Oliver says that many of his male friends think reading is something that girls do. He says: “‘[Because] we’d rather do stuff,’ he said … ‘When you’re reading you’re just sitting there. Girls don’t mind sitting around, but we’d rather be skateboarding or something where we’re doing something.'”
As a mother of a son, the idea that the same little dude who currently requests that we read upwards of 150 pages a night will one day NOT like reading both baffles and saddens me. It turns out that Oliver’s friends aren’t alone:
The implications of the news that girls have surpassed boys in reading — at every grade level, in all 50 states — and that girls are graduating high school and college with better grades and in larger numbers have not been fully absorbed by parents of boys. Show me a valedictorian, and odds are she’s a she. Top 10 percent of your kid’s class? Probably crowded with girls. Bottom 10 percent? Where the boys are.
We cannot accept diminished prospects for our sons, because the implications for their lives are so dire. There’s nothing innately male about illiteracy. Boys today do worse on national reading tests compared to their own gender a generation ago. There’s no mystery as to why boys have slipped. Boys read significantly less than girls, and less than their dads did when they were kids. Nine out of 10 boys today do not read for pleasure — at all. As one boy put it: “I’d rather be BURNED AT THE STAKE than read a book!”
So where are boys getting this attitude? According to Bloom, right at home: typically, their mothers are the ones who sit down with a book just for fun — not their dads. Mom takes them to the library, Mom reads at bedtime. And even in books, girls are usually the bookworms, while boys are off fighting wizard’s chess and defeating the Dark Lord (I’m looking at you, Hermione & co.).
You can read the rest of the article at Huffington Post — then get back to me! I’d love to know what you guys think about this.