Why Johnny Can’t Read: Schools Favor Girls

An eye-popping literacy gap between boys and girls cuts across socioeconomic lines, a new study shows.


Thanks to Carlton Gallery At Creekside for the cool Warren Dennis Image

Studies have long shown that boys in the United States and around the world do not read or write as well as girls. There are several reasons, according to the common wisdom:

Girls mature more quickly.
Boys are more likely to suffer dyslexia and other reading disorders.
Race and poverty play a role.

But a new study finds that the problem cuts across socioeconomic lines and pins part of the blame squarely on schools, whose techniques cater to the strengths of girls and leave boys utterly disinterested.

In separate research that Kleinfeld is also preparing for publication, she has possibly gotten to the root of the problem.

“Here’s a fascinating fact,” she said. “There is no literacy gap in home-schooled boys and girls.”

“Why? In school, teachers emphasize reading literature and talking about character and feelings,” she said. “This way of teaching reading does not turn boys on. Boys prefer reading nonfiction, such as history and adventure books. When they are taught at home, parents are more likely to let them follow their interests.”

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