Boys and Books (and how to prevent a life of crime)


After checking out the library book “Melvin Might” by Jon Scieszka I read the back of the book. It said that author Jon Scieszka founded a web-based literacy program for boys. It is called . Having two sons it intrigued me. The information below is off of their website and gives statistics and information about boys and reading:

A lot of boys are having trouble reading.

  • The U.S. Department of Education reading tests for the last 30 years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.
  • Eighth grade boys are 50 percent more likely to be held back than girls.
  • Two-thirds of Special Education Students in high school are boys.
  • Overall college enrollment is higher for girls than boys.

Why might boys be having trouble

  • Biologically, boys are slower to develop than girls and often struggle with reading and writing skills early on.
  • The action-oriented, competitive learning style of many boys works against them learning to read and write
  • Many books boys are asked to read don’t appeal to them. They aren’t motivated to want to read.
  • As a society, we teach boys to suppress feelings. Boys aren’t practiced and often don’t feel comfortable exploring the emotions and feelings found in fiction.
  • Boys don’t have enough positive male role models for literacy. Because the majority of adults involved in kids’ reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity.


I found all this information troubling because I know personally having a brother and going to a public school with boys that this is very true. I remember my brother was into reading the Goosebumps series when he was in 5-6th grade, but then his reading dropped off. I think that it is true that boys need books that relate to them. I don’t know any boys that would care to read Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, etc. No offense if they do, but books related to female relationships and dating don’t interest them as much. Boys love adventures. They love mystery. They love non-fiction books as well. I really appreciate what author Jon Scieckza is trying to do by promoting books to encourage boys to read. Boys are rambunctious, loud, physical, dirty, and imaginitive creatures, and somewhere along the way at a certain age they think reading is for girls or for little kids.


So what if they don’t learn to read:


  • Students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma when compared to proficient readers. The number rises when those kids also come from poverty. ( The Annie E. Casey Foundation )
  • The Coalition for Juvenile Justice (2001) reports that 82 percent of prison inmates are high school dropouts, and a very high proportion of them cannot read. (Adolescent Literacy: A National Reading Crisis)
  • More than one third of all juvenile offenders read below the fourth-grade level. (Adolescent Literacy: A National Reading Crisis)
  • Every school day in America, 3,000 students drop out — the majority of them are poor readers. Students with below grade level reading skills are twice as likely to drop out of school as those who can read on or above grade level. (Adolescent Literacy: A National Reading Crisis)
  • About one-third of all first-year college students took a remedial course in reading or math in 2007-2008. Students taking remedial reading classes in college had only a 17 percent chance of graduating, according to 2004 DOE data. (Alliance for Excellent Education)
  • Forecasts that by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some postsecondary education. Employers will need 22 million new workers with postsecondary degrees — and the report shows that we will fall short by three million workers without a dramatic change in course. This translates into a deficit of 300,000 college graduates every year between now and 2018. (Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce)
  • Forecasters have predicted that if static literacy levels continue, then by 2030 the entire Literacy Level distribution of the U.S. population will have decreased, creating an American workforce that is unequipped and unskilled to work in the demanding global market. (Educational Testing Service)
  • In 2008, the California State University System, the largest university system in the country, recorded that more than 60% of its incoming freshmen student’s required remedial coursework in English. (The Center for Future of Teaching and Learning.)
  • It was estimated that a single state’s employers will have to pay almost $40 million a year to provide remedial training in reading, writing, and mathematics to its employees if the current trends in secondary school preparation continue. (Achieve, Inc. 2004)
  • The United States placed 16th out of 21 OECD (Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries surveyed for high school graduation rates. (Educational Testing Service 2007


So based on this information if you want to prevent your son from going to jail make sure and read to him! Okay, that was a joke. Obviously, there are far more factors that go into the connection of poor reading to crime. But they are interesting statistics.


Bottom line: Check out the website for some books ideas for boys.

Here are some YA Christian options:

YA/Teens Fiction

1. Raising Dragons by Brian Davis

2. Chronicles of Narnia, Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

3. The Lost Books series by Ted Dekker

4. Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

5. Veritas Project books by Frank Perretti

6. Shadowmancer and others by G.P. Taylor

List of Classics for boys:

1. Peter Pan

2. The Adventures of Robin Hood

3. Black Beauty

4. Adventures of Tom Sawyer

5. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

6. The Call of the Wild

7. Treasure Island

8. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

9. Robinson Crusoe

10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

and many more…


Book recommendation from my husband (who was a boy) 🙂

The Dangerous Book for Boys

Next post: Book recommendations for Christian parents of boys by my hubby and pastor (same person) 🙂

Please let me know any other great books for boys that you love too. What are your sons favorite books?


6 responses

  1. My 8-year-old loves nonfiction books! His favorite things to read are children’s encyclopedias! He loves finding out facts about strange animals, plants, far away places, etc. He usually checks out nonfiction books at the library, too. We’ve also found several easy versions of Pilgrim’s Progress that he (and his sister!) read cover to cover! He’s like the “Ten Boys Who Changed the World” and “Ten Boys …” etc. books and of course Swiss Family Robinson! 🙂
    Thanks for this great info! I’d never heard of guys! I’m excited to check it out! 🙂

  2. That’s funny you mentioned Pilgrim’s Progress. I just read about John Bunyan and how he was put in prison because of his preaching. His friend John Owen went to the King to request his release. The King asked him why since John Bunyan was an uneducated man. John Owen said “May it please your Majesty, if I could possess the tinker’s abilities to grip men’s hearts, I would gladly give in exchange all my learning.” And John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while in prison. Very glad your son loves the book and that he loves reading. You must have sparked that love of reading by reading to him and giving him great books. 🙂

  3. Whoa! Excellent research about boys and reading. I am super impressed. Thanks for promoting literacy 🙂

    1. Thanks! The love of reading is such a gift and I hope my sons will open it! 🙂

      1. My 19 yr old got an app for his smart phone so he could listen to books as he commutes to and from work! Lifelong readers! It is do-able!

      2. That is awesome! Good job dad!

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