Q I have a difficult Year 4 class - boys outnumber girls by nearly two to one. Many of the boys have low literacy levels for their age, mainly it seems because they don't want to read, although they do enjoy listening to me read stories. Do you have any suggestions?
A Reluctant readers have few positive experiences of reading to draw on and find it difficult to cope with the reading demands of the classroom.
Luckily, the boys in your class love listening to stories read aloud. This is a good start - keep it up at all costs. Reading aloud, as wide a range of stories as possible, provides opportunities to experience the language and pleasures of texts of all kinds.
You could also try out a small special reading project in your classroom.
Persuade your head to fund 20 or so good books (or scour the school and assemble the best you can, or seek help from your school library service).
Involve your class in choosing the books - you could do some internet research together (try www.storiesfromtheweb.org for recommendations).
Choose a range of books - short and long novels, picture books and poetry.
Once the books have arrived, select two or three to read aloud, then introduce the rest of the books to the class gradually, by reading the first chapter as a taster. Ask them to volunteer to be reviewers.
Children may like to read in twos and threes, which is particularly helpful for weak readers. Later, they can vote on their top five books, create posters for their favourites and find out about the authors and other books they've written. Then invite them to bring in books from home to share with the rest of the class.
Soon, I hope, you'll find you're on your way to creating a community of readers. I've known several such projects change the reading climate in classrooms. After all, reading is a social process - we're all influenced by others in what we read, and many boys seem to need more encouragement and peer support than girls to become motivated readers.