Ebook Readers: 5 Benefits for Boys
Boys love screens! Too much sometimes. That’s why many parents resist buying them ebook readers. They feel their sons spend too much time looking at screens already, so they don’t want to encourage more of it.
I beg you to encourage more screen time with ebook readers if you have or know a preteen or early teen boy! For boys, not as much girls (many actually prefer print books), reading with an ebook reader can make all the difference in the world.
As a teacher, encouraging reading from an ebook reader changed the trajectory for many self-proclaimed non-reading boys. What happened in my classroom is also confirmed by recent research from the National Literacy Trust.
“Our research shows using ebooks increases boys’ reading progress and makes them keener, more confident readers.”
Benefit 1: Boys view reading more positively with ebook readers
In my book, Boys and Books, I explain that most boys view reading as pain not pleasure. Because boys are already comfortable and familiar with technology, I found that the boys I taught didn’t resist as much if they were able to read on a device (e-reader, smartphone, iPad). Also, it seems as though the stigma of reading seems to disappear when boys read on a device.
A recent OECD report showed that when boys read for reading assessments on a computer, they scored four points higher than on the paper-based version. Also, the gender gap in reading narrows if digital reading is involved (girls outperform boys by 38 points on a paper-based test which is equivalent to one year of school compared to only 26 points on the computer test).
Benefit 2: All books are in one place and easy to carry on ebook readers
Many boys I taught wanted to read certain books but complained how heavy they were to carry around or hold in their hands. So they didn’t. They also had varying interests and didn’t like taking multiple books out of the library or taking them home. So they didn’t.
Boys who had all their books on ebook readers, didn’t mind carrying it back-and-forth between home and school, or home and anywhere. Many shared with me that when they had a spare moment with nothing to do, they found themselves reading a book from their device.
Benefit 3: No one knows what books they are reading on ebook readers
This benefit is key for boys, especially struggling boy readers. I found that when what they were reading stayed private, middle school boys were more willing and open to read a ton more. Because being stereotyped as a “girl” or a “nerd” or being embarrassed was a fate worse than death, using an e-reader took both of those things away. This then made reading okay.
Benefit 4: Boys can change the font, lighting, and size of the words to accommodate their preferences
When I read on my Kindle, I make the page look just like it does in a book. My husband, on the other hand, has about four words per page when he reads on his. Never would I imagine doing that, but most boys are like my husband. They love the fact that they can set-up their reading experience to work for them, not against them, and many of them make the print really large (but the best part, the size of the device doesn’t get larger and more cumbersome to carry and hold when they read!).
Benefit 5: Boys can look up words without disrupting reading and listen to the book if they want to
This is another huge benefit for boys, especially struggling readers. The dictionary is one click away, and so boys are more willing to look up words and increase their vocabulary. Plus, many books include the text-to-speech feature, and listening to books while reading them is a great way to read more challenging books.
Yes, boys may be distracted from reading using ebooks readers or devices, and that’s why it’s important to turn off any distractions when they’re reading. For boys, two great options are the Kindle for Kids Bundle or the Kindle E-reader (these links are affiliate links, and I will make a little bit of money if you decide to purchase through them, at no additional cost to you) because they both are distraction free: no social media, emails or text messages.
Ebook readers definitely mix boys and books and are something to seriously consider if you’re wondering how to help boys become readers.
Here’s to boys reading!