Boys don’t like to read. It is, apparently, a fact. One of those extra facty facts that doesn’t require citation; it just is. It’s so true, so universally acknowledged, that to cite a source would be to undermine its factiness. Everybody knows it. It is because it is.
The significantly less facty fact, but the one that has actual science in it, is that boys read only slightly less than girls (Topping 2010). They tend towards less challenging literature, it’s true, but ultimately the reading habits of girls and boys are remarkably similar.
Yet we believe beyond doubt that boys are usually reluctant readers who don’t read outside of the classroom and only read inside it with some hesitation.
The genesis of this myth is likely the type of reading boys indulge in. They are more likely, in their leisure time, to read graphic novels and comics, magazines (the number one choice of reading materials for both boys and girls) and websites. Each of these media has a value – graphic novels may be picture heavy, but they use similar narrative techniques to other fiction, magazines are as likely to be informative as they are to be vapid and being able to surf the internet effectively is a valuable skill. If your children are clicking on Perez Hilton as often as Wikipedia, they’re still practicing functional literacy. If we started to view time spent online or with a comic book to be legitimate reading, the perceived gap between girls’ and boys’ readerly habits would look much smaller.