Study Finds Boys Aren’t Reading Fiction Books Because of Gender Stereotypes

We’ve rounded up great fiction reads all kids will love.

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July 30, 2021
By: Amanda Mushro

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Children at modern school facility


Children at modern school facility

Photo by: Klaus Vedfelt

Klaus Vedfelt

When it comes to kids and reading, studies have often found that children who read for enjoyment are also the ones who score higher on academic testing. While teachers and parents try to offer up book selections they think kids will want to read, a new study says we might be handing a limited selection of books to boys. Is it time to get out of the non-fiction section of the library and head to the fiction aisle? This study says yes.

According to a new study, gender stereotypes may be holding boys back from reading books they are really interested in, and this may be why many boys aren’t reading for enjoyment. Often in classroom settings, boys are offered non-fiction reading options while girls are given fiction books. Researchers from the study say there is a long-standing myth that boys are often reluctant readers who prefer to read non-fiction books.

However, according to the boys surveyed in this study, 57% say they prefer fiction over non-fiction. If the goal is to encourage kids to read more and to read what they enjoy, it may be time to change up their reading list and forget those stereotypes.

"The study demonstrates the importance of promoting reading enjoyment — particularly fiction — early on in schooling," says lead study author Laura Scholes. "Fiction plays a key role in reading development. So, facilitating opportunities to develop sustained enjoyment of reading of this text type in the classroom is one way to expand boys' repertoire of experience. It also supports students with more limited access to quality reading resources."

Researchers surveyed over 300 school-aged children for the study, and asked kids to rate their level of enjoyment for reading fiction, non-fiction, as well as comics and magazines. Kids could rate the options to "like a lot" to "like a little" or "don't like." Researchers also asked kids to indicate how frequently they read, ranging from "daily" to "hardly ever." What they found was that girls and boys who said they liked fiction "a lot" was 63%.

Scholes hopes this study encourages schools to take these findings into consideration when deciding which books are promoted to students. One solution is to offer up more library visits for young and emerging readers.

If you are looking for great fiction books that boys and girls will love, here are a few of our favorites!

For Early and Emerging Readers

These books are great options to read to your kids and as they learn to read, you can take turns reading pages to each other. Look for books with lots of pictures, repetition of words, large print, and only a few sentences on each page.


These silly and super cute stories will make you and your kids giggle. With this big book, kids get five stories in one.


Pete is one cool cat and he goes on so many fun adventures that will thrill your young reader!


Snuggle up and read about Henry and Mudge’s adventures. With six books in this set, you and your kids will love reading every story over and over.

Early Fluent Readers

Now your kids can read to you, but don’t forget that reading to them is just as important. So, take turns reading at night. Choose books that have more pages and longer sentences. These books should have more variation in the words and sentence patterns as well.


This fun series is a great option for early fluent readers. Nate will introduce kids to the detective and mystery genre of books while they problem solve to figure out how the book will end.


Kids will laugh along with these funny stories and relate to all the moods of Judy Moody.


Parents and kids love these books because they’re just so much fun! If you have a kid that loves to read — get these books. If you have a reluctant reader — get these books.

Fluent Readers

For these readers, grabbing a book and reading on their own is easy. While they will still need help with certain words, they are able to read independently. Choose books with more text on the pages and more challenging vocabulary. Offer up books that cover different topics and genres so they can choose what they like to read.


This novel shares the story of an unexpected friendship and it is narrated by Ivan, a gorilla who lives in captivity. The sweet and touching story is a favorite for many readers.


This is a really fun series for kids to read. Molly Moon finds a mysterious old book on hypnotism and quickly discovers she can make people do whatever she wants. However, a sinister stranger is looking to steal her secrets.


This series is an action-packed adventure that is full of surprises, thrills, and spy stories. Follow Alex Rider as he uncovers the truth and stays one step ahead of the people who want to capture him.


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