A librarian says her unique program at Beachy Cove Elementary aimed at getting young boys to read more has been working wonders.
Heather Godden, the teacher-librarian at the school in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, said she started B.U.R.P. — the Boys Undercover Reading Program — as a way to get young boys to identify as readers.
Godden said she got the idea after a conversation with her husband after he said he didn't consider himself a reader, even though he frequently reads magazines and newspapers.
'If you simply ask a boy what he's interested in, and then you go and get it and provide it for him, he will read it. That's it' - Heather Godden
"I started doing a bit of reading about it, and I learned that boys generally do perceive themselves to be non-readers," she said.
According to Godden, the problem wasn't that boys weren't interested in reading, but the books they were interested in weren't on the shelves of their school library.
"In literature, books that boys like are described as blood and thunder, most typically non-fiction, how things work, information, action, nature, science, and typically what is found on the library shelves would have been fiction," said Godden.
"I spoke to my principal about this idea that I had, that maybe I could do something about that, because reading is linked to a greater achievement — the more children read, the better they are in English language arts."
So Godden started B.U.R.P. seven years ago, and said it's been a big hit at her school ever since.
If you bring it, they will read it
According to Godden, the male students in Grades 3-6 have taken to having some more book options that really appeal to their interests.
They get to write down topics they're interested in reading about, and Godden will find books that meet the criteria.
"Boys like it because it's a bit of time away from girls, girls like it because it's a bit of time away from boys. It's special. I'm asking them what they want, and then I go get it, and when I bring it back and show it to them they know it's just for them."
She said younger boys with older brothers know that they can expect to take part in B.U.R.P. when they get older, and look forward to it.
"What I learned is that if you simply ask a boy what he's interested in, and then you go and get it and provide it for him, he will read it. That's it."