Boys Continue To Lag In Reading Ability

True Hero Stories: INVICTA’s mission to create content that will get kids, especially boys, reading. We are very passionate about inspiring kids to become life-long readers and learners.

Boys are face a reading crisis that is every bit as worthy of attention as the gap in STEM achievement by girls. CalMatters, a non-profit and non-partisan journalism site, reported earlier in the month that Californian boys score very low on reading ability across all ages.

Girls have caught up to boys on math scores, but boys now lag far behind girls on reading ability. Boys are worse readers than girls regardless of their socio-economic status. Even boys at high scoring schools read less well than girls of the same age do, indicating that this is not a class issue.

The CalMatters report emphasizes a racial angle to the story, reporting that the trend is worse among African-American boys. 80% of African-American boys fail to meet state reading standards in fourth grade.

It’s unclear how CalMatters gained access to the data, which seems to have been an unintentional release by the California Department of Education. The state, however, will not release the full data citing cost and complexity issues. Consequently, we have no idea the degree to which boys of other ethnicities fail to meet the state reading standard.

The report has triggered frustration and outrage among educators. However, we do not agree with the racial aspects of some of thes response. For instance, Chris Chatmon, who runs the African-American Male Achievement program in the Oakland Unified School District, was quoted in the report as saying:

“Part of this may be structural, in having texts that aren’t relevant to the experiences and legacy of African-American boy. When a lot of the curriculum you have access to isn’t familiar, or doesn’t acknowledge your past or your present, you have a tendency not to be engaged with it or want to read it.”

Mr. Chatmon’s quote reminded us of an article by Jay Nordlinger, editor of the National Review, that reflected on his visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture. Towards the end of his tour he noticed:

“Some little kids are sitting on a bench, having a rest. They are black. Their teacher, or guide, is white: a nice white lady. “What has been your favorite thing about the museum so far?” she asks. One boy says, “Army!” Another boy agrees, “Army!” The lady says, “Oh, you mean learning about the African-American men and women who have served in the armed forces?” The boys look a little confused, and say again, “Army!” I love it. You can’t stop boys from being boys, no matter what.”

We at True Hero Stories: INVICTA believe very strongly that the issue is that there are not enough texts for boys that engage them on their primal level. Our kits and books combine elements that get boys reading by pulling them into the story with comic book imagery, plenty of action, a bedrock of authenticity and decision making that lets them control the narrative.