Books Are Boring! Books Are Fun!

Boys’ Polarized Perspectives on Reading

in Boyhood Studies
View More View Less
  • 1 Queensland University of Technology laura.scholes@qut.edu.au
Restricted access

ABSTRACT

This article draws on interview data gathered from a broader study concerned with examining issues associated with boys, masculinities, and reading at school. The focus is on eight boys in Years 5 and 6 who attend schools in a range of socioeconomic communities in Australia. The boys offer polarized perspectives on reading, with four boys reporting positive attitudes toward reading and describing reading books as “fun” and another four boys describing reading books as “boring.” Examined are inflections in these two groups of boys’ experiences as readers at school, making visible the way boys’ attitudes influence engagement with reading. This research moves beyond broad generalizations about boys to consider complexities inherent in notions of masculinity and how different groups of boys internalize their positioning of reading in ways that influence their attitudes, engagement, and subsequently outcomes in reading.

Contributor Notes

Laura Scholes is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. She is currently leading an Australian Research Council–funded project looking at challenging masculinities associated with boys’ failure in reading. E-mail: laura.scholes@qut.edu.au

Boyhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

  • Alloway, Nola, Peter Freebody, Pam Gilbert, and Sandy Muspratt. 2002. Boys, Literacy and Schooling. Canberra: DEST.

  • Alloway, Nola, and Pam Gilbert. 1997. “Boys and Literacy: Lessons from Australia.” Gender and Education 9 (1): 4958.

  • Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). 2015. NAPLAN Achievement in Reading, Persuasive Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy. Sydney: ACARA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barton, David. 2007. Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Barton, David, and Mary Hamilton. 2012. Local Literacies: Reading and Writing in One Community. Abington, UK: Routledge.

  • Boys’ Reading Commission. 2012. A Review of Existing Research Conducted to Underpin the Commission. London: National Literacy Trust.

  • Collins, Cherry, Jane Kenway, and Julie McLeod. 2000. Factors Influencing the Educational Performance of Males and Females in School and Their Initial Destinations After Leaving School. Canberra: DETYA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connell, Raewyn W. 1995. Masculinities. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

  • Connell, Raewyn W. 1996. “Teaching the Boys: New Research on Masculinity and Gender Strategies for Schools.” Teachers College Record 98: 206235.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connell, Raewyn W. 2005. “Change Among the Gatekeepers: Men, Masculinities, and Gender Equity in the Global Arena.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30 (3): 18011825.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connell, Raewyn W. 2013. “The Neoliberal Cascade and Education: An Essay on the Market Agenda and its Consequences.” Critical Studies in Education 5 (2): 99112.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connell, Raewyn W. 2015. “Meeting at the Edge of Fear: Theory on a World Scale.” Feminist Theory 16 (1): 4966.

  • Connolly, Paul. 2004. Boys and Schooling in the Early Years. London: Routledge Falmer.

  • Connolly, Paul. 2006. “The Effects of Social Class and Ethnicity on Gender Differences in GCSE attainment: A Secondary Analysis of the Youth Cohort Study of England and Wales 1997–2001.” British Educational Research Journal 32 (1): 321.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cunningham, Anne, and Keith Stanovich. 1997. “Early Reading Acquisition and its Relation to Reading Experience and Ability 10 Years Later.” Developmental Psychology 33: 934945.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Epstein, Debbie, Jannette Elwood, Valerie Hey, and Janet Maw, eds. 1998. Failing Boys? Issues in Gender and Achievement. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Field, Andy. 2009. Discovering Statistics Using SPSS. 3rd ed. London: Sage.

  • Freebody, Peter, Karl Maton, and James Martin. 2008. “Talk, Text, and Knowledge in Cumulative, Integrated Learning: A Response to ‘Intellectual Challenge.’Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 3 (2): 188201.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gerdin, Göran. 2017. Boys, Bodies, and Physical Education: Problematizing Identity, Schooling, and Power Relations through a Pleasure Lens. New York: Routledge.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gilbert, Robert, and Pam Gilbert. 1998. Masculinity Goes to School. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

  • Gurian, Michael. 1999. The Good Son: Shaping the Moral Development of Our Boys and Young Men. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.

  • Gurian, Michael, and Arlette Ballew. 2003. The Boys and Girls Learn Differently: Action Guide for Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

  • Haywood, Chris, and Máirtín Mac an Ghaill. 2013. Education and Masculinities: Social, Cultural and Global Transformations. New York: Routledge.

  • Ingram, Nicola. 2011. “Within School and Beyond the Gate: The Complexities of Being Educationally Successful and Working Class.” Sociology 45 (2): 287302.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ivankova, Nataliya, John Creswell, and Sheldton Stick. 2006. “Using Mixed-Methods Sequential Explanatory Design: From Theory to Practice.” Field Methods 18 (1): 320.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Keddie, Amanda, and Martin Mills. 2007. Teaching Boys: Developing Classroom Practices That Work. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

  • Lingard, Bob, Wayne Martino, and Martin Mills. 2009. Boys and Schooling: Beyond Structural Reform. New York: Palgrave McMillan.

  • Love, Katrina, and Julie Hamston. 2004. “Committed and Reluctant Male Teenage Readers: Beyond Bedtime Stories.” Journal of Literacy Research 36 (3): 335400.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mac an Ghaill, Máirtín. 1994. The Making of Men: Masculinities, Sexualities, and Schooling. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

  • Martino, Wayne. 2001. “Boys and Reading: Investigating the Impact of Masculinities on Boys’ Reading Preferences and Involvement in Literacy.” The Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 24 (1): 6174.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martino, Wayne. 2003. “Boys, Masculinities and Literacy: Addressing the Issues.” Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 26 (3): 927.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martino, Wayne. 2011. “Failing Boys! Beyond Crisis, Moral Panic and Limiting Stereotypes.” Education Canada 51 (4). http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/failing-boys-beyond-crisis-moral-panic-and-limiting-stereotypes.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martino, Wayne, and Michael Kehler. 2007. “Gender-Based Literacy Reform.” Canadian Journal of Education 30 (2): 406431.

  • Martino, Wayne, and Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli. 2005. Being Normal Is the Only Way to Be. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

  • Martino, Wayne, and Goli Rezai-Rashti. 2012. Gender, Race, and the Politics of Role Modelling: The Influence of Male Teachers. New York: Routledge.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martino, Wayne, and Goli Rezai-Rashti. 2013. “‘Gap Talk’ and the Global Rescaling of Educational Accountability in Canada.” Journal of Education Policy 28 (5): 589611.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maton, Karl. 2009. “Cumulative and Segmented Learning: Exploring the Role of Curriculum Structures in Knowledge-Building and Transfer.” British Journal of Sociology of Education 30 (1): 4357.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McKenna, Michael. 1994. “Towards a Model of Reading Attitude Acquisition.” In Fostering the Life-Long Love of Reading: The Affective Domain in Reading Education, ed. Eugene H. Cramer and Marrietta Castle, 1840. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McKenna, Michael, Kristin Coradi, Camille Lawrene, Bong Gee Jang, and Patrick Meyer. 2012. “Reading Attitudes of Middle School Students: Results of a U.S. Survey.” Reading Research Quarterly 47 (3): 283306.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McKenna, Michael, Dennis Kear, and Randolph Ellsworth. 1995. “Children’s Attitudes toward Reading: A National Survey.” Reading Research Quarterly 30 (4): 934956.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miles, Matthew, Michael Huberman, and Johnny Saldana. 2013. Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Sage.

  • Millard, Elaine. 1997. “Differently Literate: Gender Identity and the Construction of the Developing Reader.” Gender and Education 9 (1): 3148.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Millard, Elaine. 2002. Differently Literate: Boys, Girls and the Schooling of Literacy. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

  • Morris, Edward. 2012. Learning the Hard Way: Masculinity, Place, and the Gender Gap in Education. Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 2012. Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now. Paris: OECD Publishing.

  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 2014. PISA 2012 Results: What Students Know and Can Do. Paris: OECD Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 2016. PISA 2015 Results. Paris: OECD Publishing.

  • Ringrose, Jessica. 2007. “Successful Girls? Complicating Post-feminist, Neoliberal Discourses of Educational Achievement and Gender Equality.” Gender and Education 19 (4): 471489.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rizvi, Fazal, and Bob Lingard. 2010. Globalising Educational Policy. London: Routledge.

  • Schiefele, Ulrich, Ellen Schaffner, Jens Möller, and Allan Wigfield. 2012. “Dimensions of Reading Motivation and Their Relation to Reading Behavior and Competence.” Reading Research Quarterly 47 (4): 427463.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scholes, Laura. 2013a. “Boys, Masculinity and Literacy: The Influence of Notions of Masculinity on Educational Outcomes.” Journal on Masculinities and Social Change 2 (2): 194220. doi:10.4471/MCS.2013.29.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scholes, Laura. 2013b. “Clandestine Readers: Boys’ and Girls’ Descriptions of Going ‘Undercover.’British Journal of Sociology of Education 36 (3): 359374. doi:10.1080/01425692.2013.826899.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scholes, Laura. Forthcoming. Boys, Masculinities and Reading: Gender Identity and Literacy as Social Practice. New York: Routledge.

  • Scholes, Laura, and Michael Nagel. 2012. “Engaging the Creative Arts to Meet the Needs of Twenty-First-Century Boys.” International Journal of Inclusive Education 16 (10): 969984. doi:10.4471/MCS.2013.29.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Skelton, Christine. 2001. Schooling the Boys: Masculinities and Primary Education. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

  • Sommers, Christina Hoff. 2013. The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men. New York: Simon & Schuster.

  • Stahl, Garth. 2015. Aspiration, Identity and Neoliberalism: Educating White Working-Class Boys. London: Routledge.

  • Stanovich, Keith. 1986. “Matthew Effects in Reading: Some Consequences of Individual Differences in the Acquisition of Literacy.” Reading Research Quarterly 21: 360406.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Street, Brian. 1984. Literacy in Theory and Practice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Street, Brian. 1995. Social Literacies: Critical Approaches to Literacy in Development. London: Longman.

  • Tischler, Amy, and Nate McCaughtry. 2011. “PE Is Not for Me: When Boys’ Masculinities are Threatened.” Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 82 (1): 3748.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ward, Michael. 2015. From Labouring to Learning. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave.

  • Weaver-Hightower, Marcus. 2003. “The ‘Boy Turn’ in Research on Gender and Education.” Review of Educational Research 73 (4): 471498.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilkinson, Richard, and Kate Pickett. 2009. The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone. London: Penguin Books.

  • Younger, Mike, Molly Warrington, John Gray, Jean Rudduck, Ros McLellan, Eva Bearne, Ruth Kershner, and Pat Bricheno. 2005. Raising Boys’ Achievement. Research Report 636. Norwich, UK: University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 79 79 39
Full Text Views 12 12 0
PDF Downloads 13 13 2