Boys, Masculinities and Reading


This paper draws on data examining masculinities associated with boys’ failure in reading. The research aligns with recognition of literacy as social practice and an understanding that literacy is acquired within particular social, cultural and political contexts. As literacy has social meaning, boys’ position reading within their identities, which in turn influences their attitudes, engagement and their learning. Participants included 320 Year 3 students (aged 8-9 years) from 10 schools in a range of socioeconomic locations. A paper based survey asked participant to indicate on a Likert scale their; enjoyment of a range of activities including reading – enjoyment; self-reported reading frequency – frequency; and beliefs about reading beliefs. The socioeconomic background of the school community, student race/ethnicity and students’ reading levels were also collected. Follow up interviews were conducted to confirm the survey findings. Typically more girls than boys indicated positive attitudes and enjoyment for reading. However, differences amongst girls and amongst boys themselves indicated complexity in the diverse range of attitudes, beliefs and levels of enjoyment for reading. Analysis indicated inflections in boys’ beliefs, attitudes, and engagement with reading was associated with reading outcomes. This paper argues for public education policies that recognize and embrace differences between boys, including the role of masculinity, disadvantage and social influences (race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion) to develop frameworks that facilitate the expansion of boys’ repertoire of experiences rather than homogenizing gender and explicitly contributing to the re-inscription of gender stereotypes and the narrowing of boundaries.


Masculinity Diversity Literacy


Learner Diversity and Identities


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Laura Scholes
    • Senior Research Fellow , School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education , Queensland Univesity of Technology , Australia Australia
    • I am a senior research fellow in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Currenlty I am lead investigator on a three year funded Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) project looking at challenging masculinities associated with boys' failure in reading. My research interests include gender and schooling, boys and reading, student identity and learning, literacy as social practice and the development of epistemic beliefs.