Need Some Advice From Other Homeschooling Moms of Boys

Most families are probably either winding down or completely finished with their homeschooling year (or maybe , like us, homeschooling year round); but, I am going to ask my question anyway. 😯

How do you get your boy(s) to read, or better yet, to LIKE reading???

Overall, our homeschooling is going very well and my six-year-old is loving it. We are several months ahead of first grade in math, science, and even spelling. I have almost no problems with getting Andrew to sit down to do his work. BUT reading has always been a problem. I started out using the “Teach Your Children to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” when he was 4 years old. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but he picked it up fairly well and was able to read small words quickly. Right now he is at the point where he can read at an advanced first grader / beginning second grader.

So, it’s not that he can’t read, he just doesn’t want to sit down to do it! I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed (on both sides), arguing and yelling has gone on over this reading thing. The last few months have been the worst. Not only is it a struggle to get him to read for school, it is impossible to get him to practice reading at other times. I try to get him to do his reading before the other subjects, to get it out of the way, but all the fighting sets a bad tone for the rest of the school day.

What to do? Any suggestions? Am I alone in this? How do you moms get your boys to read??? Any suggestions, consolation, or ideas would be appreciated! 🙂

(Liked to Works for me Wednesday because asking other moms for help works for me. 🙂 )


  1. I’m not a homeschooling mom, but I’m the mom of a boy. First, I think you need to separate the homeschool teacher from the mom. The homeschool teacher needs to make him read things that challenge him and teach him. The mom needs to help him find fun, interesting books–which will probably be easier to read than the ones the teacher has for him. Mom also needs to read to him (I’m sure you do). My daughter is at that reading level and it’s hard to find books at that level that are both easy to read and exciting. I have some luck with read-along. We had a Junie B Jones book last night and while it is on her reading level, it is too long for her. I’d read for a while and then she’d read a paragraph. We go a lot faster that way, and yet she gets the experience of reading that book.

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Good ideas, RAnn, thanks for the suggestions. It can be a challenge separating the teacher from the mom – and like you said, finding good books at his reading level that he enjoys.

  2. I put some thought in this, but I’m afraid, wish as much as I do, that I’m not going to be much help. I did (still) go through this with my son. I did not get to home school him. I am a very avid reader. To this day, I cannot believe he’s my son, and not a book person. How did that happen? He’s going to be 20 in November. After your post yesterday, I talked with him about it last night. He still insists that he DOES like books, and that he DOES like to read. He claims it’s too hard for him to find a book that so absorbes him that he wants to keep reading it. He says he is very “action” oriented and that he just cannot find a book that meets the pace. I told him, as he well knows, I get absorbed into the book, distractions disappear for me when I do read, not vice versa where distractions keep me from reading. He understands that, but says he just cannot find a book that holds his attention. I think he is, now, comparing the action of a video game versus the “plodding” of a book.

    I wish I could help more. I do feel and know intimately your frustration. I pray you have better luck than I have had. 🙂

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, Kwee. Your comment IS helpful in that it consoles me that I’m not alone!

      My husband isn’t much of a reader, so my son must take after him. Funny thing is, we don’t let him play video games nor much TV, so you’d think he’d pass the time with books. Nope, he has a vivid imagination and comes up with all sorts of games for himself instead.

      A friend suggested that I drop the formal reading lessons for a while, so I think I’ll do that. I’ll keep reading to him and hopefully he’ll want to read some for himself.

  3. In my experience as a first grade teacher and as a mom of a 7yo boy, I would suggest some non fiction reading. There has been a push in this area in the last few years (for the reason of getting little boys interested in reading) so you should be able to find some resources. Good Luck!

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Thank you, Brandi. I’ve noticed that a lot of moms are suggesting non-fiction books, too, so I’ll give those a try.

  4. Jennifer Ott says

    Hi! And keep trying! Not everyone will be an avid reader…that’s true. My brother (homeschooled) was never a big reader and hated science…now he is getting a PhD in the sciences! My son is 6 now and also started reading at 4. He and your son would get along with those vivid imaginations! It is a blessing because he entertains himself (and his younger siblings for hours). We bought 100 Scholastic books for $1/each during a special deal. He likes non-fiction better than fiction now. Nate the Great books worked well, too, since you have to read to find out what happened. We also bought some Rod and Staff books that were nice and short that he enjoyed. But…non-fiction works for him! We also go to the library weekly and find books on whatever interests him at the time. Our summer reading program there helped, too, since he would get engrossed in a book and read more than he needed to!

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Yes, it a blessing that my son can entertain himself otherwise I’d never get anything done. 🙂

      Thanks for the book suggestions, I will check those out.

      I’m consoled by the story about your brother, makes me realize that my little guy may become a reader yet!

  5. This is a comment often uttered by homeschooling moms of boys. I have a daughter that is an avid reader, but my nephews (homeschooled) don’t always like to sit down and read a book. My suggestion is this: make it come to life for him! Find a book that is fun, make it into an art project, a play, just read it to him. He will read when its needed. Another way to have him read (kind of on the sly) is to check out kids cookbooks and have him be the chef and you the sous chef. He is in charge, but he has to read the recipe in order to get it right. This also works with science projects, the messier the better. Hope these help.

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Those are great ideas, Tiera, thank you.

      My son LOVES helping me in the kitchen; but, it never occurred to me to have him read the recipes for me. Talk about a “duh” moment! Will start that today. 🙂

  6. Figure out what he loves and get books about that. It doesn’t matter the reading level. Go to the library and let him pick out as many books on the subject as he can. My dd loves horses. I would let her pick out anything on horses. I don’t care if it’s a board book or a horse encyclopedia or something in between. If it’s above his reading level, that’s OK. You can help him if he asks or you can volunteer. It’s OK if he just wants to look at the book. Get him audio books that he can read along with. Take turns reading. You read one page and he reads another. If all else fails – bribery. Reading is something that he is going to use for the rest of his life. If he needs candy or games or snuggle time to encourage it – so be it. Relax and good luck.

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Thanks for the ideas, Ellen. Bribery is the one tactic I have been using. 🙂 I wish I didn’t have to, but it does work sometimes.

  7. Disclaimer: I’m not a boy mom. But I’m a homeschool graduate who has been homeschooling my own kids for several years, so I’ve been in the homeschooling world for a long while. 😉

    I think you’ve gotten some good advice. Six is still pretty young, so a) I wouldn’t push it too hard and b) I wouldn’t worry too much. (My sister HATED to read at that age, and she’s quite the bookworm now.) But the biggest hurdle in getting boys to read seems to be the content. Find books he WANTS to read, and it will eventually come (assuming he doesn’t have any learning struggles making him balk). I know folks who have even started with comic books. 😉 Kids’ nonfiction can be a good one – things like Usborne’s Machines that Work. Or books like The Swiss Family Robinson and G.A. Henty’s books. (Both of those are above his reading level right now, but you might be able to find abridged versions or read them to him, so he’s exposed to good “boy books.”)

    Try Googling “books for boys.” I thought that one of the major catalogs had a section like this, but I can’t remember which one and can’t find it. In the process, though, I Googled that phrase, and a BUNCH of stuff came up. (Just use discretion, obviously, with the content, as most of the lists that popped up are secular.)

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Glad you chimed in Rachel! I’ll take the advice from anyone with reading suggestions, not just moms of boys. 🙂

      I’ve been steering my son away from comic books because I want him to read more quality books, but I’m guessing for now, I may give those a try. He does love superheros.

  8. I’m not at that point yet, my boy turns 1 next week, but I do know that my mom struggled a little bit with my brother too. Once they found books that he liked though… He writes for a living now and is a voracious reader. Don’t give up. It’s hard at that age and reading level, but I’m sure there are some out there. Can you just incorporate a little more reading into his other lessons, history for example, and cut back on reading curriculum. Find interesting books about knights and castles, or cowboys, or patriots, whatever it is you’re studying. Make it a little more like a unit study, where everything ties together. Also keep in mind that he is still young. There is plenty of time to push hard when they’re bigger. For an interesting perspective look at a thomas jefferson education (just do a google search). It’s geared to homeschoolers about when to push what as far as learning goes.

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Thanks for the ideas, Annie. I never heard of the Thomas Jefferson Education, but I will look it up.

      So far I’ve only done a unit study once, but maybe it’s time to incorporate them more into our homeschooling…

  9. It is possible he hasn’t started making the books come alive in his head yet. It might be a good idea to listen to books on CD in order to help him visualize and dramatize the stories in his head.

  10. theresa alescio says

    i’m not much of a reader either–
    but since Andrew loves spiderman–find something like that for him

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Believe it or not, even with the Spiderman books he gives me a hard time; but, I’m going to get some more and keep trying.

  11. I heard it said once that you learn to love music by hearing beautiful music – not by listening to piano drills. I think reading is much the same. As a homeschool mom of four (two reluctant reading boys) the best advice I have is to read to him LOTS!! Put away the books and the drills and just read to him! Try it for 3 months. Just read out loud the best books you can find that thrill the imagination! You will also share sweet memories of reading not battle weary frustrations.

    You must get “The Read Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease. I think it should be required reading for homeschool moms 😉

    When my oldest was having a tough time reading he fell in love with the Redwall book series by listening to it. The reading level at the time was way too difficult for him but he wanted so much to read it he would pick it up every 3 months to see if he could read it yet. One day after probably 2-3 years…he could read it by himself. He went to the tree house and read for 2 hours.

    I would also highly suggest the “Five in A Row” series for his age, they fuel the reading fire! Blessings to you and yours

  12. About the Read Aloud Handbook…it will stem the flow of your own reading tears, set your heart and mind at ease AND set a positive direction for your school years ahead. There should be joy in the journey – Jim Trelease will show you how to move in that direction.

    BTW-I just looked and it is available on Paper Back Swap and most probably in your local library. It is a classic!

    • SimpleCatholic says

      Thank you, Amy, for your advice and suggestions. I will definitely check out the Read Aloud Handbook. I appreciate the suggestion.

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