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SALT LAKE CITY -- How to connect boys and books is a growing effort for reading advocates all over Utah. They want all kids to read, but they find boys in particular respond to different strategies.

There's a sign in a special section at the Salt Lake County Library that warns "No girls allowed."

That's the first attraction for boys. Snacks also draw them there.

Other strategies to help boys read:
  • Encourage them to read magazines, comic books, on line materials
  • Non-fiction, like atlas, world record book, etc, appeals to boys
  • Parents should read with boys, alternate
  • Parents should model by reading themselves
  • Read 2 chapters in a book, if boys don't like it, let them move on

"I like to do all the fun activities, and at the end we always get something to eat," said young library visitor Ridhay Suresh.

But most importantly, boys like the books at these outreach events taking place at libraries all over the valley.

"It has lots of activities focusing on different topics that boys like," Ridhay said.

So what do boys like? The event titles offer insights: "Rats, Rats and more Rats." "Slime." "Grossology: Ur-ine for Fun."

Librarians discovered this key: the grosser the better.

"And non-fiction has been shown to get boys reading," said librarian Allison Madsen.

Often this is the age where boys lose interest in reading, so Library Systems and the Utah Humanities Council is trying to hold their attention.

"It keeps them coming back to the library, keeps them engaged with a librarian and, between that, a teacher and a parent at home," Madsen said. "We can hopefully keep them reading."

At a special lecture for parents and educators, author Ann Cannon offered strategies geared specifically toward boys.

"I think the main thing is to redefine what we think reading is," she said. "Lots of times we think of reading as reading a book, a novel. Really, reading involves a lot more than that, reading magazines, non-fiction, reading online."

Here's another strategy to get boys interested in reading. For the next week, every boy -- and girl, for that matter -- who signs up for the Read Today incentive program will get free cookie dough at Papa Murphy's Pizza. There will be other prizes for our boys already in the program who are top readers.

Register at ReadToday.com.

E-mail: dwimmer@ksl.com

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Nadine Wimmer

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