I hear a lot about reluctant readers. As I've mentioned before, they tend to be stories about little boys and how they don't like to read.
I also read a lot of news stories about how big boys don't like to read much either, with adult men lagging far behind women in the book reading category—especially when it comes to fiction. This article from NPR entitled Why Women Read More Than Men is a prime example. (Although you have to ask yourself, if ESPN were to be outlawed, would this "reading gender gap" evaporate overnight?)
Then I read things that suggest that boys would read more in school if they just got assigned books with more action or stories that begin with white-knuckled chase scenes, like this USA Today editorial suggests.
There may be something to all of this; I know the Joe Sherlock series wins boys over with its over-the-top goofiness and respectful nod to the staples of third-grade humor. And I'll admit, I like to do a little gross-out humor in the first chapter because I know it's something that will catch the attention of those hard-to-hook boys.
After you noodle that for a bit, consider this story from CNN that basically says lots of adults aren't reading—that's both big boys and big girls. Almost 30%, or the spookier statistic of 1 in 4 adults, haven't read a book in the last year. And of those who have, the average is about 4 books a year. That ain't much. But of course, we expect our kids to be reading like maniacs—do as we say, not as we do!
So maybe we need to do a little more of leading by example. And maybe we need to do a little more thinking about what we assign—or encourage—our kids to read. C'mon, when most adults read fiction they're reaching for mysteries, thrillers, romance, horror and science fiction—I don't have any supporting statistics here, but who wants to argue with me? And why do adults read these type of books? Becasue they're fun to read! People will read if they're reading for pleasure; they won't read simple because it's "good" for them.
There's much to be mined here. And I'm on the case. This is something I'm going to have to look into. So stay tuned, and let's see if we can't come up with ways to get EVERYBODY reading more.