In recent years, parents have expressed concerns over their child’s interest and ability to read books, particularly classic literature. This is especially true for boys and reasons could well include the negative image of reading among boys, the influence of other students and the many distractions from reading in this modern era such as games consoles and the internet. Reading is a slow process compared to the instant satisfaction of the Xbox so the secret lies in encouraging students to read as well as, not instead of, playing computer games. Bribes will not work, effective reading can only occur if the child really does enjoy the book, not just read to gain an extra 20 minutes on the computer before bed.

Modern technology is now too large and popular to fight in the attempt to persuade boys to read. Why not work with the new technology? Classic literature in film version is available to watch on the internet. Research articles and guides to books are only a google away. Student forums and blogs are readily available and makes it clear that the boys are not alone in their reading. The themes of classical books may also be explored in modern films, so start with recent blockbusters and make links with the classics.

My own little boy expresses horror at the thought of reading a long classical novel, it is a slow methodical process and is seen as something you have to do, not want to do.  Boys need to want to read so talk about the book before reading. So…..

  • ask questions concerning what may happen in the book and what he would do in that situation;
  • make constant links with modern examples to make the book closer to his world;
  • watch the film version and discuss it, compare the film with the book, what are the similarities and differences;
  • think of alternate endings, role play different characters, bring in comparisons with the world of today;
  • classic books are just like books and films of today but written in a different way…how are they different and why;
  • explain the social differences, what life was like then, imagine if…;
  • don’t read the book from cover to cover, ask him what part he liked and enjoyed in the film and read this only for now, the rest of the book can wait.

Essentially, reading should not be a battle. Gentle encouragement, links with modern world, use of the internet, reading sections of the book that interest him, discussion (both positive and negative responses accepted), watching the film…..these are all useful techniques to encourage your boy not only to read the classics, but to enjoy them.


Rob P, English Teacher at PET-Xi

Rob has worked with PET-Xi Training Ltd for over a year now and has been vital in the implementation of newly designed courses, and is PET-Xi’s lead examiner.

He has experience in teaching English Language/English Literature to all ages including AS/A2. GCSE, IGCSE, IELTS common entrance, Primary and EFL.Robert has a great passion for teaching and thoroughly enjoys the challenges and rewards that are offered.

He enjoys the immediacy of supply teaching, adapting his teaching and class management skills to the situation at hand.

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