Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Stars to encourage boys to read

Book shelf
The scheme aims to get boys reading with other men in the family

Rugby captain Ryan Jones and Cardiff City star Joe Ledley are backing a campaign to get more boys reading.

Read A Million Words Together will urge boys to read in different ways, using the internet and comics, and will focus on using men as role-models.

A 500,000 assembly government grant will also allow schools to buy more books for boys.

By the age of 15, 18% fewer boys reach the acceptable reading standard, compared to girls.

The campaign will target nine to 14-year-old boys and aims to encourage them to read with other boys and male members of their family.

John Griffiths AM, Deputy Minister for Skills, said some boys' struggle to read had "an impact on their overall levels of literacy and attainment".

He will launch the scheme, developed by the assembly government's Basic Skills Cymru team, at the Improving Boys' Literacy conference in Cardiff.

'Family is key'

"A lack of positive role models and the assumption that reading isn't 'cool' can have a damaging effect on boys' willingness to pick up a book," he said.

"I want to make sure that boys across Wales know that men read, and through this campaign supported by stars such as Cardiff City's Joe Ledley and Wales' Ryan Jones I want to see boys pick up books, comics, sports programmes and much else, embracing all forms of reading.

"And family is key. An essential part of the campaign is ensuring that male family members read with their sons, nephews, brothers and cousins," he added.

At age seven, 10% fewer boys reach the acceptable reading standard, compared to girls.

They'll need reading when they leave school, not just as an interest but in their everyday work
Rhian Jones, Ysgol Botwnnog, Pwllheli

By the time children reach the age of 15, this figure almost doubles to 18%.

Ion Thomas, a teacher and father of two sons said reading to boys helped them to know how to read for themselves.

"It's important for one reason to make them more confident and also to enhance their vocabulary and their language, because as an adult you can read books that are a little more difficult or challenging and they become familiar with the text and that sort of literature," he said.

"It opens the door of the imagination."

Rhian Jones, a teacher at Ysgol Botwnnog in Pwllheli, Gwynedd, said the secondary school had set up a boys' reading group because staff felt they were falling behind the girls.

"We've created this club for them with the intention hopefully that they will enjoy coming here to read books, discuss books and so forth.

"They've got all sorts of activities which take up their time, they're always out playing football, watching television, computer games and all these modern devices, so reading is the least important, I think, in their daily lives.

"It is important that changes - obviously they'll need reading when they leave school, not just as an interest but in their everyday work," she said.

Same problems

As part of the campaign, copies of a book for teachers, Me Read No Way!, have been sent to every school in Wales.

The book describes 13 ways to encourage boys to read in school and at home and is based on research by Dr David Booth of the University of Toronto, who will address the conference.

Dr Booth said boys faced the same problems with literacy around the world.

"We've compiled these issues from other documents, other research, other countries trying to come together with a plan to support boys.

"We're taking a look and what we think boys need and what we think boys want and trying to blend the two into really strong programmes in our schools," he added.

Time Troopers, a comic to develop boys' interest in reading is also planned.

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SEE ALSO
Book list for boys shuns classics
14 Jun 08 |  Education
Scheme aims to get boys reading
16 May 07 |  Education
Fruit scheme 'helps reading age'
08 Jun 05 |  North East Wales
Girls 'read twice as much as boys'
13 Mar 02 |  Education
Balls seeks reading 'revolution'
24 Oct 07 |  Education

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