I had the privilege of working as an educational consultant with a large publisher of children’s books for two years. A huge part of my job was meeting with teachers and parents to help in the process of choosing books for kids. I thoroughly enjoyed the job because I genuinely love books and love kids. I’m passionate about childhood literacy not only for our own children, but for other children in the community.
The more I worked in schools and homes though, the more I realized an unsettling problem:
The vast majority of boys are labeled ‘reluctant’ readers.
I heard this from teachers, librarians, and parents alike. As I met with families in their homes it become extremely apparent that the majority of boys I encountered didn’t enjoy reading. Parents were desperate to find material they ‘would read’. The nice thing about the publisher I was working with (Usborne Books) is they offer countless fantastic non-fiction books that appeal largely to boys. It wasn’t a problem finding great books, the question always remained though – will the boys actually read them?
Countless Moms have opened up to me about their son’s reading problems. They talk about how their son just ‘doesn’t like’ reading or how he struggles to find ‘good books’. Many Moms also voice concern for their son’s inability to focus on a piece of literature. As I talked through these issues with families I started to realize an undeniable trend.
Almost every boy who was reluctant to read, spent hours in front of a screen every day.
The conversation always came to me asking about screen time. Sometimes, it went over well, sometimes, it didn’t. I was never pushy or placing judgment, I was just to the point. I just simply asked how much screen time was part of the child’s life. The truth is, boys who play countless hours of video games or watch endless TV are not avid readers. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.
Some parents are not concerned with whether or not their boys are avid readers. It’s the truth. And I’ve met them. But many parents, especially home educating parents, care deeply about their children’s relationship with books. And screen time doesn’t only affect boys, it hugely affects girls as well. I chose to direct this post to boys because in my experience, the problem of reluctant reading and screen time rested heavily on boys far above girls.
Some reasons why Screen-Time affects the love of Reading:
- Fast-paced screen-time compromises a boy’s ability to focus on simple things, like words on a page.
- Television and movies shut the brain down, weakening a boy’s desire to learn (and read).
- The high intensity nature of video games overwhelm a boy’s senses – making it hard for books to compete with that kind of action.
- After all that screen time, who has a time to read?
Let’s be intentional in nurturing healthy reading habits by limiting the competing factors like video games, TV, DVDs, internet, hand-held screens, and so on. Boys who have reduced (or very little) screen time tend to enjoy reading and will frequently turn to reading for pleasure and entertainment.
Thanks for reading! With two sons, I’m on the journey with you!