Principal wants to boost boys’ love of reading

Principal Andrew Oliver wants to boost boys’ reading levels at St. Paul Catholic School.

So students and staff at his Whitby elementary school recently celebrated reading as part of national Family Literacy Day Jan. 27, with a special focus on encouraging boys to read.

“To show that men read too, we tried to get as many male guest readers as we could to model good reading and promote literacy,” Oliver said. “Boys are very much kinesthetic learners, they learn by doing things.”

Last year, Education Quality Accountability Office’s (E.Q.A.O) test results showed that male literacy was significantly lower than female literacy in Ontario.

This finding prompted Oliver to make modernizing the school’s library to support and improve male literacy a priority.

“We’re trying to reduce the gap between male and female literacy,” he said.

School volunteer Aimee Talbot says staff is active in creating a whole library section for boys. They’ve been working to bring graphic novels specifically for boys into the library.

“More modern and Canadian authors are getting more into male literacy,” she said. “A lot of the newer books within the last three or four years have been geared for boys.

“Graphic novels have become a huge part in that. Our boys in our school eat them up. We cannot keep them on the shelf.”

To incorporate reading into the student’s everyday routine for the month-long literacy promotion program, the teachers have found many ways to make reading fun by tailoring activities to each grade level. Playing games, such as Pictionary, made the children more inclined to participate in literacy games because of their interactive nature, Talbot said.

“These kids have no idea that they’re reading,” she said. “With Pictionary, the kids have to read the card and act it out.

“It causes the students to use their heads in a different way. That’s the whole point of reading, to use their energy and their imagination.”