Getting boys to love writing is challenging for the fainthearted. I must admit that when I was a teacher, before having my own three boys, I sometimes felt frustrated with the topics the boys in my class selected. I admit I have occasionally tried to sway boys to write kinder, gentler stories. Now that I have my own boys, I understand that if I want to raise boys who like to write, I need to let them get their ideas on paper without judgement. Even if their ideas include bloody battles, gruesome snake attacks, burning up in hot lava, farting in the face of their arch rivals…you name it. (Obviously, within reason, according to your own family values.) If the stuff that makes a great story, (according to a six year old boy), is allowed to make it to the page, then he’ll feel passionate about what he’s writing, so he’ll keep writing. If he keeps writing, he’ll become a better writer. And maybe someday, he’ll even learn to match the content of his writing to his audience, so Grandma won’t have to read fart stories. Fingers crossed. We’re definitely not there yet. Thanks for your patience, Grandma!
Here’s one recent example. This story was written by my six year old. Technically I did the writing, because he was so excited about the story that he wanted to act it out while he dictated it to me. (Acting out a story before/during writing is a great strategy to get the ideas flowing, btw.) I wrote exactly what he said, and he loves the finished product because it contains lots of wonderfully gross, disgusting action. Since most you aren’t kindergarten-aged boys, I spared you the gruesome parts. You’re welcome!
The bottom line: If boys (and girls) write about what they’re interested in, it will be fun to write and fun to read over and over again. Pretty basic, but I constantly need to remind myself.
If you want to know more about getting boys to write, check out Boy Writers by Ralph Fletcher. (This is great for both parents and teachers.)
Anyone have any more tips for engaging boys in writing? I’d love to hear what works well at your house?