1. Finding a book they WANT to read

    What do they want to read about?

    What are they interested in?

    What do they do when they are not reading?

    There are books about adventure, sport, beasts, dinosaurs, outer space, warriors, computers and many of their favourite TV shows and games. Go to the early reader section of your bookshop or library and see what’s there.


    Do judge a book by its cover

    We all do – and the covers are designed to help you know what kind of story is inside. Lots of glitter and pink is probably a little girls’ book while darker colours perhaps with blocked foil is more likely to be for boys (looking like the books older boys and dads read)! Everyone has their own taste – let your child pick the ones he likes the look of.

    A cover needs to engage the boy – and be something that he is happy to be seen reading. Books that look too ‘baby-ish’ don’t get picked up even if they are the perfect reading level.

    Even young boys want something cool, something that speaks to them, not their teacher!

    Heroes, jokes and gross-outs

    Some of the most popular books for boys star heroes and humour, sometimes both at the same time! You mightn’t want to read a book packed with fart jokes but thousands of boys do!

  2. Finding a book they CAN read

    A good way for parents and kids to see when a book is too hard to use the five finger test.

    Ask your child to start reading aloud a page of the book they think they want to read. If they stumble over a word hold a finger up. Hold a finger up for every word they find tricky. If by the end of a page five fingers are up, the child has spent more time concentrating on difficult words than on reading the story and will have lost the storyline of the book. The book is too hard, at least for now.

    Using the five finger test is quick, easy and can be done without drawing attention – important if your child is embarrassed about their reading.

    If they really liked the sound of the book, note the title so you can come back to it once their reading has developed a little more.

    Look under the bonnet

    Check out the interior of the book – the layout and design of the pages is important. Look for the things that make for an easier read for the beginning reader

    • larger type and lots of space on the page
    • lots of small chapters that allow for a sense of achievement
    • illustrations that provide reading breaks (but not so many that the child doesn’t think he is reading a ‘proper book’)
    • not too many words on the page


  3. Hook them into a series to build reading momentum

    When you are on a good thing …

    Boys like collecting stuff and many books are published in series. Once he likes reading one book, he can return to other books in the series knowing he wants to and is able to read them. A series can be collected, shared and swapped with friends. The repetition of characters, themes and settings in series are also comforting and provide an easier read for more reluctant readers.


Learn More


Boys have poorer literacy rates than girls.

75-85% of at risk children (with poor literacy skills) were boys.1
Australian boys do less well than girls in early literacy rates.2

Boys don’t think of reading as entertainment.

65 per cent of males surveyed as part of the Young Australians Reading survey said they consider reading irrelevant. 3

Boys’ reading tastes differ from girls’ and what adults might think suitable.

Research shows boys like to read escapism, humour, science fiction, fantasy, sports and hobbies and books that are part of a collection or series 3

It’s hard to get them to read – and keep them reading.

Yet it is one of the most important skills our children learn

Countless studies all conclude that reading is powerful: literacy in early years is strongly correlated to how successful one is in later years. A 2004 Australian survey found that 75-85 per cent of ‘at risk’ children (with poor literacy skills) were boys.4

But how can you help them read? How can you help enjoy reading?

There’s no magic but there are some things that might make getting your children reading easier.

Mark Australian Council for Educational Research. (2004). Boys in school and society, Research Highlights.
Mark Gilbert, P., & Gilbert, R. (1998). Masculinity goes to school. St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin.
Mark Smith, M, W., & Wilhelm, J. D. (2002). Reading Don’t Fix No Chevy, Literacy in the Lives of Young Men. Omaha: Heinemann.
Mark Australian Council for Educational Research. (2004). Boys in school and society, Research Highlights.


Andy Griffiths – Junior Readers

Big Nate – Lincoln Peirce

Boy vs Beast – Mac Park

Captain Underpants – Dave Pilkey

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney

Hey Jack – Sally Rippin

The Treehouse series – Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton

Zac Power Test Drives – H I Larry