Helping Parents and Educators Reshape Reading…So Boys Will Want to Read

Services for School Visits with Hillary Tubin, Founder of Boy-Responsive Literacy Consulting, LLC

  • Parent, Educator and Community Workshops
  • Assemblies/Workshops for Boys
  • Short- and Long-term Consulting
  • Speaking Engagements

My services can help you:

  • Understand why 9- to -14-year-old boys are not reading for pleasure in their spare time (there’s more to it than meets the eye), and the steps educators can take to encourage, support and help parents initiate the 30-minute-a-day reading habit at home with their sons
  • Build community within your school/school district and outside of it (parents, libraries, businesses, neighbors) with reading for pleasure as the common denominator and the bridge
  • Use reading for pleasure as a foundation and stepping stone for self-proclaimed non-reading preteen and early teen boys so they will want to read (and understand) more complex and rigorous grade-level texts
  • Innovate your curriculum to prepare self-proclaimed non-reading 9- to 14-year-old boys for the strong literacy skills they will need to they thrive, not just survive, in the global, knowledge-based economy they will enter upon high school graduation
  • Incorporate the 10 Building Blocks (the foundation needed so boys will consider reading at home) into your school day to show self-proclaimed non-reading boys you are on the same page as their parents

Where are you right now?

Do you wish the upper elementary and middle school boys in your school/ school district were reading for pleasure outside of school more than they are doing, if at all?

Do you become frustrated because there isn’t enough time in the day to include pleasure/choice reading in school even though you know it’s important, but you’re not sure how to get parents on-board or how to help them instill the 30-minute-a-day reading habit at home with confidence and harmony?

Are you concerned with the time 9- to- 14-year-old-boys are spending on technology/media, but you don’t know how to help them balance their “reading distractors" with the 30-minute-a-day reading habit?

When you see the reading results of 4th, 8th, and 12th grade boys on the NAEP assessment, 15-year-old boys on the PISA reading literacy assessment and the number of boys scoring basic or below basic on your state’s standardized reading test, do you shake your head in frustration and despair?

You’re not alone. Many educators I worked with felt the same way and so did I. I felt like pulling my hair out because I didn’t know what more I could do to mix boys and books. I almost gave into the belief “Boys just don’t like to read,” even though it went against everything I passionately stood for.

I knew 30-minutes-a-day of reading for pleasure offered amazing benefits and was the antidote to the six common reading distractors facing 9- to- 14-year-old boys today: competing demands, homework, technology/media, standardized testing, stereotyping and multitasking.

What I wasn’t sure about was how to help boys want to read in their spare time at home.

At first I tried to include reading for pleasure in my classroom every day, but that was a pipe dream. Choice reading was always the first thing to go when I needed more time in my schedule to teach.

Then I made 30 minutes of reading for pleasure part of their homework every night. I didn’t do a good job explaining to the boys or their parents why this type of reading mattered and why 30 minutes is the sweet spot. I just expected it would happen.

Not so much!

  • Parents signed their names saying their sons did their reading, when they didn’t.
  • Boys skimmed a random page in the book before coming to class and only talked about that one page or worse yet, they put their heads down or acted out or shut off to learning.
  • I received numerous phone calls and notes about my “choice reading” homework causing tension and fights at home.

Instead of opening up my boys to the world of reading for pleasure, I put parents in a difficult situation without an action plan in place to help or support their efforts. No wonder they signed the paper or became frustrated! I would be, too, if I were up a river without a paddle.

My intent was not to cause more challenges for parents of preteen and early teen boys, but I did without proper planning and collaboration with them.

Maybe you can relate, or maybe you know teachers in your school or school district who want to help boys read for pleasure but the same things are happening to them.

What Does this mean for Boys and their Reading Habit Outside of School?

Unfortunately, school reading (foundational, standardized and mandatory) isn't enough on its own. When boys aren't reading for pleasure at home, they're missing out on all of the researched benefits the daily reading habit offers them.

  • Higher all-around academic achievement and test scores
  • Strong reading skills
  • Strong verbal cognitive skills and cognitive stamina (mental effort)
  • Improved writing/spelling/language and math skills
  • More fully-developed vocabulary, essential for increased communication skills
  • More expansive background/general knowledge
  • More fully developed empathy, essential for improving people skills
  • More fully developed imagination and intellectual curiosity
  • Reduced stress and reduced or delayed onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. -Mark Twain

Imagine working together with parents towards a common goal: boys reading and thriving.

Imagine helping parents learn the knowledge they need to instill the 30-minute-a-day reading habit in their son with confidence and harmony.

Imagine 9- to 14-year-old boys being open to reading because they know someone believes in them and is willing to invest the time, effort and planning so they will read.

Imagine boys coming to school ready to learn because they are reading for pleasure at home and reaping the rewards and the benefits only this type of reading can offer.

My Experience

I went on a 20+ year quest to figure out what was going on in the hearts and minds of boys and if their relationship with reading could be re-defined and reshaped.

As a literacy teacher, I read, researched, hypothesized, engaged in trial and error, and talked to 350+ boys about their reading lives. Studying at the University of Pennsylvania’s (GSE) Reading/Writing/Literacy program, I delved deep into my interests and focused my research on the needs of early teen boys and their reading lives. I received my M.S.Ed and reading specialist certificate.

To further my understanding, I became a National Board Certified Teacher of Early Adolescence/English Language Arts and studied to become a principal. I was also a trained literacy facilitator/professional developer/trainer and a district-wide curriculum writer and presenter for the 6th-8th grade Common Core Reading Standards. 

Here’s the Big Secret I Discovered on my Quest

Boys will read, even boys who struggle with reading WILL read, just not how we imagine and expect it should happen. I uncovered through my research and talking to boys why they were always resisting, fighting and devaluing reading in their spare time.

With this critical information in hand, I pinpointed what I call the 10 Building Blocks, and being boy-responsive is what I call when parents and teachers are committed and willing to develop the building blocks so boys will read.

Boy-Responsiveness and the 10 Building Blocks are the foundation and support parents need to put in place at home and teachers at school before self-proclaimed, non-reading 9- to 14-year-old boys will even consider reading for pleasure.

As educators, it’s our responsibility to help parents help their sons become self-directed, lifelong readers and learners. Just like boys can’t transform their non-reading habit into the reading habit without their parents’ help, parents can’t instill the 30-minute-a-day reading habit in their preteen/early teen son without our modeling, encouragement and actionable steps.

I would love to help your school/school district lean in and work together with parents and your community so that 9- to 14-year-old self-proclaimed non-reading boys have the opportunity to become the best version of themselves and thrive in the future because they read!