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Motivating Boy Readers

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November 2011

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What do humor and action have in common?  They appeal to boys.  Most boys actually enjoy being read to in their early years.  But what happens once they turn 8, 9, 10 years old?  They want to be running around…playing, laughing, making strange noises with their bodies.  Even if they don’t eagerly choose to grab a book and sit down to read, they can be won over.  Our challenge is finding books that interest them; books they can relate to.

Alan Sitomer tells how one must be passionate about what he is doing to make a difference.  We must win hearts before we can fill the minds.  Engagement (through action and humor maybe?) leads to motivations, which leads to comprehension, which leads to performance.  Kids who like their teachers will do better work for them.  Without joy, there will be no top tier of achievement.  (NCTE 2011).

Jon Scieszka says, “Humor is the most vital way to motivate kids.”  (NCTE 2011)

Some great authors who use humor:
Alan Sitomer

  • Nerd Girls, The Down Side to being Up, Homeboyz, Hip Hop High school

Gordon Korman

  • Swindle, Zoobreak, Show Off, Framed, This can’t be happening at McDonald Hall, Titanic series

Jon Scieszka

  • The Stinky Cheesman, The true story of the three little pigs, Smash that trash, Truckery Rhymes, Sorry Greg, Knucklehead, The Knights of the kitchen table series

Rick  Wallace

  • Sports Camp
  • Kickers series

Lenore Look

  • Alvin Ho series

Graham Salisbury

  • Calvin Coconut

Patricia Reilly Giff

  • Zigzag Kids series

Tony Davis

  • Roland Wright series

Jack Gantos

  • Dead end in Norvelt
  • Hole in my life
  • Jack Adrift
  • Joey Pigza swallowed the key

Jerry Spinelli

  • Crash
  • Loser
  • Maniac Magee
  • Stargirl

Boys can be won over, and kids can develop a sense of humor.  Look at the texts being used in the classroom.  How many are funny?  Are you using magazines and graphic novels?  It comes back to the magic combination of humor and action.  Most boys can’t resist it!

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