Raising Boys That Read

Hey there, dear reader, how was your weekend? I hope it was as relaxing and rejuvenating as you wanted it to be.

We had a lovely, full weekend (more on this, later post) and enjoyed some of the best spring weather to date.

FYI, If you haven’t seen, I recently posted my first workout video, so if you’ve been meaning to get moving, but haven’t because of ______, or ______, or ______, now is your chance (it’s free and you can do it in your living room in under 20 minutes. Yay!).

Also, there was an interesting comment from Amberly in my Why I Became Vegan post. It’s at the very bottom and is regarding vitamin B-12. I gave my response, and if you’re interested, check it out, and put in your two cents if you like. I mean to devote a future post to the issue (heaven knows this isn’t a highly enough discussed topic for vegans, right?).

Today I want to talk about these guys.

I have two boys. They are 15 months apart. Yes, they did come from the same father.


His name means happy and this is why we chose it. It’s a fitting name. He is a happy little man. He used to suck his thumb. Takes after me. I did as a kid, too. He still can’t pronounce his r’s. He can put together a 100 piece puzzle in under two minutes without any help.


He saved Asher’s life once. Asher fell into a small decorative pond at my parent’s house (Hyrum was 2 1/2, Asher was 15 months). It was the middle of winter, everyone was inside, and we thought the gate to the pond was locked. Hyrum knew something was wrong so he came inside and said in his two year old voice, “Mama, Asher in water.” From there, I raced outside, and seized Asher’s freezing body out of the water. Breathing, alive.

Hyrum loves to cuddle with me. I will be sad when he can no longer do this.
He is sensitive and popular at school. His best friend’s name is Lex. Isn’t that a cool best friend name?
Hyrum and Asher are best friends. They do fight and make each other cry, but they are brothers, nearly twins. Soon after Hyrum was born, we both felt that it was time to have another. I am amazed that I was able to get pregnant so quickly and without much effort, I knew it was because they were supposed to be together.
They are boys in the usual sense. They play cars, trains, run, jump, wrestle. They read books.

One ritual that our family has is to read books every morning. As soon as each one gets up, they get a few books, a small bowl of dry cereal (cheerios, most days) and they sit and read. Sometimes I read to them, sometimes Joseph reads to them.

I read an article in the Desert News today that made me be okay with the fact that all Asher wants to read are non-fiction books about dinosaurs, trucks, and spiders. I find these books dull myself, but as I read DINOSAURS! for the third time in two days this morning, I realized, it’s not about what I find interesting. It is about reading what interests him so that he will learn to love reading. A hard pill to swallow sometimes, since I can’t even pronounce ceolophysis (atriassic dinosaur) or archaeopteryx (the first bird), but despite my inability to do so, Asher remains riveted by the subject matter. I cannot relate. I never thought dinosaurs were cool, but according to Joseph, every boy loves ’em.

Hyrum has been somewhat of a reluctant reader (an understatement). He’s the runt of his 1st grade class since his birthday is in late summer. We home schooled him last year, and he was not excited or even interested (sometimes downright hostile) about learning how to read. We decided the best approach was to read to him as much as possible, since he loves books, he just hadn’t latched onto this idea of learning how to read. We figured eventually he would be interested in learning to read himself.
Hyrum know reads with proficiency, and meets 1st grade standards, but he remains reluctant.
I still hold to the opinion that the best approach is find books, I don’t care if it’s about Spiderman, cars, Toy Story, whatever (anything but the dreaded Sponge Bob books, please NO Sponge Bob!), that interest him, and with enough support, encouragement and exposure, reading will become something that is a part of them.

As the article outlines, boys are at much greater risk than girls for falling behind academically, particularly in the area of reading and writing. Poor reading skills and involvement are often precursors to later in life success. These facts can seem a bit depressing, but I think the solution is to embrace their interests and make reading about them and their interests.

Bring on the dinosaur books, the Harry Potters, the comic books. Whatever it takes, to get them to read, I will be there supporting it 100%.


What do you think? Do you think boys are at-risk for being non-readers? Do you have boys? If so, what has been your experience? I’d love to hear.



  1. Janet
    on April 5, 2012 at 3:21 am said:

    My daughter is 11, and she goes to a French school. We are English, but wanted to give her the opportunity to be bilingual. Living in Canada this is a big plus as any government jobs and many in customer service require a person to be bilingual. One of the things that she still has trouble with is reading. She's improving by leaps and bounds this year. One of the things that I got her to try was graphic novels. She loves them. Her favourite is Indiana Jones, but she also loves Nancy Drew Mysteries.We've determined that she is a auditory learner more than a visual learner. She can memorize things and recite them back to you very quickly if they are read to her, or if she sees them on tv shows.It's a struggle, and I find it incredibly hard because I have never had any problem with reading and don't remember when I learned to read, but we're working on it constantly.

  2. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on April 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm said:

    Melissa: You are so helpful and sweet! Thanks for taking the time to write that. I love the post-it notes idea. I've always kind of gotten irritated that the kids always wants to write little notes, and they'll easily go through a whole package of post-its doing so. I suppose now I should just buy in bulk and let them go to town.The kids do really love Calvin & Hobbes (it runs in the family), so I suppose I ought to also encourage this. I need to find more age appropriate comic books (not sure if some of the graphic novels out there are quite 1st grader material).Ah, so many helpful insights, thanks so much everyone!

  3. Melissa DeLeon
    on April 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm said:

    A close friend of hubby and mine is a special educaion language arts teacher in a Seattle (low-income) middle school. (Kids don't get any tougher than that to encourage!) She also has 4 or so years of experience as an elementary teacher. When a cousin of mine mentioned on a blog that it was a challenge to get her son to read, I inquired of my friend. This was her response:"The key is to find a series he loves… What level is he reading at? I could recommend some books. Also he doesn't always have to read books, he could read magazines or there are a lot of comic books at different levels….you would be surprised to know Calvin and Hobbs is written at a 4th grade reading level. Reading the same book a few times will help him with his fluency and improve his rate….how is he on his site words? You could practice those with flashcards if he is struggling… I have the words through 8th grade:). I have noticed that kids like to read more when they get to write thoughts down on post-it's. This also helps with comprehension. If all else fails maybe being him to get checked out by a vision therapist… Many kids who don't like to read have a hard time reading, quite often it is a tracking problem and you can work those muscles to improve that. Let me know what else I can do to help:)"

  4. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on April 3, 2012 at 5:27 am said:

    Emalei: Such a nice surprise to have you pop in. I don't think I knew you were a mom. Congrats! The Lightning Thief series, I really must look into this one. Thanks for the recommendation. I really value your opinion, especially considering your background with teaching, so thanks for taking the time to share insights (and hope your enjoying your new career as a mom!).Lfwfv: I agree. Sibling rivalry gone amuck, is a sad thing indeed. I believe it all begins in childhood. Hopefully, if they can love & care for each other as kids, when they become teenagers, that love will get them through the bumps.Amy: you are so sweet! Thank you. You sound like you are a fantastic mother. Your son is so lucky. Series books are great, I really need to get the boys to latch onto these. I will have to check into that website, sounds great. Thank you for taking the time to give me suggestions, I appreciate it.

  5. Amy
    on April 3, 2012 at 1:31 am said:

    First, your children are gorgeous! I have a nine year old son who is very active and struggled to find books he wanted to read. Read to them, surround them with the printed word, let them choose what they like, exactly what you are doing. My son would tote around giant non-fiction books about archaeology, knights, sports for the longest time. He couldn't even read them, but he liked paging through the books. Now, he reads avidly and enjoys series as well. His favorite author is Jon Scieszka, who has a great website called GuysRead.com. It has articles for parents and kids and book suggestions for any theme and level.

  6. Anonymous
    on April 3, 2012 at 1:14 am said:

    I love your ideas about encouraging kids to read by reading books they are interested in. I also love that you raise your boys to love and respect each other. i hate seeing siblings who do nothing but hurt each other. I know some sibling rivalry is normal, but i also think siblings can be the best friends you'll ever have. I love when i see siblings who obviously love and care for each other. lfwfv

  7. Emalei
    on April 3, 2012 at 12:41 am said:

    Hi JaNae!I was a teacher for 8 years (currently taking some time off to be a full time mom), and what you are doing is spot on. About boys being more reluctant than girls, I cannot say. I have seen both boys and girls reluctant and both boys and girls voracious. I have always told concerned parents to just read to their kids, and read to them about their interests. (NBA, dinosaurs, even Captain Underpants-which I hate) and leave books about their favorite topics within easy reach. If you can get kids hooked on a series, even better! I had a VERY reluctant reader a few years ago. We introduced him to the Lightning Thief series and he couldn't stop reading, even reading through recess and lunch. 🙂