Closing the Reading Gender Gap

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Conventional wisdom doesn't always apply—especially when determining how to narrow the gender gap in reading. On the surface, it would seem that the challenge of motivating boys to read in school could be solved by finding texts that appeal to boys. Our research, however, suggests that such efforts are misguided, in part because it's just too difficult to make sweeping generalizations about what it is that boys like to read.

Indeed, our research indicates that there are no simple answers. Our survey of 49 boys from four different schools in three different eastern states revealed that if boys don't like to read in school it's for several reasons:

  1. They didn't feel competent in the activity.
  2. They perceived that the text they were to read was beyond their abilities.
  3. They didn't understand the purpose for reading.
  4. They didn't perceive their reading to be immediately useful or enjoyable.
  5. They didn't see how the reading material had social significance.

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