The reading experience of young successful boy readers
In this study, the reading experience of six young successful boy readers is examined with a view to identifying ways in which the reading achievements of all boys might be raised. Initially, the experiences and behaviours associated with young successful readers are identified, including aspects from the home and the school, and those characteristics from within children themselves. Next, literature on boys' reading is examined, and this shows that there are many negative influences on the reading lives of boys generally. The reading experience of the six young successful boy readers is then investigated through empirical work. The central approach adopted is multiple case study using ethnographic tools. The six boys were reading fluently and for pleasure by the end of their Reception year (aged 5 years) and were studied for a two year period. Observation and research conversation were the main data collection methods adopted; the boys' experience as young successful readers was examined by observing them in their homes and schools, and by talking to them, their parents and their teachers. The results illustrate that the six young boys who are successful readers have a masculine identity in which reading has a secure and positive place. They have overcome the negative influences which frequently impact on the reading experience of boys and have successfully integrated ways of being a boy and being a reader. The boys' reading is highly developed at home by living in a 'reading family'. The boys use their advanced achievement in reading to gain a high status position in the classroom; their reading behaviour makes them popular and powerful with their peers. Hence these boys make reading work for them and, subsequently, it is a desirable feature of their developing masculine identity. These results are reflected upon to identify ways in which the reading achievements of all boys might be raised. I have suggested that schools might be encouraged to develop their reading curriculum in a number of ways, including spending more time reading extended texts for pleasure and using high status texts from boys' vernacular reading in the formal reading curriculum. In addition, I argue that all boys might benefit from examining the gender assumptions on which texts and their own reading preferences are based.