A report out today, quoted by the BBC, underlines the difficulties boys have with reading. It notes however: “…there is evidence that the literacy gender gap has been around for some time, with girls outperforming boys for perhaps as long as 60 years.”
Back in 1960, Peter, in Boy & Girl, also had problems with reading. Here’s a glimpse at his thoughts as he entered his English classroom only to discover he had forgotten his homework.
It wasn’t that he disliked English, it was one of his least boring subjects, apart from maths that is. Rather, it was English that disliked him. How many times had his teachers told him he was clueless? His spelling was atrocious, they moaned, his compositions wild and incoherent and when he tried to read out loud, he stumbled over even the most common words. At such times his guts shrunk to half their size in humiliation.
And here is a short conversation with his English reacher, after class is over.
“How often do you read?” she asked.
“From time to time.” Rarely would have been a more honest answer. He liked stories, didn’t he tell himself stacks of them, but reading books wasn’t the same.
“Do you have any books at home?” she asked.
“Two,” he replied.
“Apart from Shadow the Sheepdog, what’s the other one?” she asked with a tired smile.
“Peter Pan,” he replied, blushing.
“You could go to the library,” she suggested, sounding sceptical about her own idea.
He shrugged. How could he tell her it wasn’t personal? He just didn’t enjoy reading.
Extracts from Boy & Girl, Chapter 1.