Motivating Boys to Read: Guys Read, a Summer Library Reading Program for Boys

Deborah R. Dillon, David G. O’Brien, Kristen Nichols-Besel


A 2013 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) report, How a Nation Engages with Art, illustrates that voluntary “literary” reading rates of adults have fallen1 compared to an applauded rise in 2008.2

Prior to these two reports, other NEA research showed a serious decline in both literary and book reading by adults of all ages, races, incomes, and education levels.3 Other survey data measuring what youth do in their leisure time indicated that young men and women read fewer than twelve minutes per day.4 These reports show that boys’ frequency of reading lags behind that of girls and that boys are reading neither the number of books nor the range of genres they should read as they progress through the elementary grades.

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National Endowment for the Arts, How a Nation Engages with Art (Research Report #57) (Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts, 2013), 24.

National Endowment for the Arts, Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy (Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts, 2009).

National Endowment for the Arts, Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America (Research Division Report #46) (Washington, DC: Office of Research and Analysis, 2004).

National Endowment for the Arts, To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence (Research Report #47) (Washington, DC: Office of Research and Analysis, 2007).

Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Average Hours Spent per Day in Leisure and Sports Activities, by Youngest and Oldest Populations," American Time-Use Survey (Washington, DC: US Department of Labor, 2016),

Jon Scieszka, "About," Guys Read, accessed October 26, 2016,

Nola Alloway, "Swimming Against the Tide: Boys, Literacies, and Schooling--An Australian Story," Canadian Journal of Education 30, no. 2 (2007): 582–605.

Mollie V. Blackburn, "Boys and Literacies: What Difference Does Gender Make?," Reading Research Quarterly 38, no. 2 (2003): 276-87.

Wayne Martino, "Boys, Masculinities, and Literacy: Addressing the Issues," Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 26, no. 3 (2003): 9-27.

Michael W. Smith and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys": Literacy in the Lives of Young Men (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002).

Leonie Rowan et al., Boys, Literacies and Schooling: The Dangerous Territories of Gender-Based Literacy Reform (Buckingham, England: Open University Press, 2002).

Michael Quinn Patton, Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, 3rd edition (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001).

Anselm Strauss and Juliet Corbin, Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990).

Lauren Kewley, communication project coordinator at Hennepin County (MN) Library, e-mail message, October 2016.



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