“Is that a book about Minecraft?” someone recently asked my son, incredulous.
“Yup,” my son said.
He had studied the book cover to cover, ignoring everything else the day before but he still wasn’t done enjoying it thoroughly. If it wasn’t required that we sit down together at dinner every day in our home, he would have skipped eating.
From time to time, he would come to me excitedly telling me something new he had discovered. Sometimes, he would stop me to explain a new word he had read.
“Mom, what does ‘deadly’ mean?”
Suddenly, he was reading at a much higher level than I had gauged. He has never been a bad reader, but his reading took on a new seriousness. He was engaged on a level I had never seen, okay, maybe I had – I see it in my husband when he’s learning a new program – the singular attention that blocks out everything else, but I had never seen it in my son.
It looked very different from the times when I had taught him to read with the phonics based hundred easy lessons.
Something inside me thrilled. This was it. I knew it. This, right here, was how I needed to engage him.
Boys Need a Reason Why
I know this because I have potty trained them as well as my daughter, who is markedly different. It isn’t enough to tell boys to do something. They need a compelling reason why.
Now before the internet pounces on me, let me add that this does not mean that I only require my son to read Minecraft books. I will however remind him that one of the reasons he should learn to read is so that he can then pick out any book he wants and have no problem understanding it.
The line between why he is learning what he is learning and how it will help him in the future – or even today – must be drawn clearly if we want boys actively interested in their education.
I have a friend who, when her son was not interested in writing, asked him to tell her a story. She began typing what he was telling her and then reading it back to him. She said he had the most wonderful imagination and when he saw that he could tell good stories, he became interested in writing.