Getting Books in the Hands of Adolescent Boys with Engine Oil Under Their Fingernails

Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Aaron Peterson


boys, males, reading, literacy, engagement, curriculum


The purpose of this research study was to determine the types of novels that will engage male adolescent students. These students enjoy hunting, fishing, sports, and working on engines, but they do not enjoy reading and typically perform poorly when assessed on reading skills. Research indicated this was the case for many male adolescent students across the globe: boys are spending less time reading and score lower than girls on standardized tests (Boltz, 2007; Parkhurst, 2012; Senn, 2012; Serafini, 2013; Smith & Wilhelm, 2002). One solution to get more males reading was to consider their preference for certain text characteristics, like a plot that has a lot of action or adventure. Therefore, this study was focused around the research question: What impact will implementing a male-friendly text in a traditional American literature class have on male students’ reading satisfaction? The study was divided into two parts. First, students read a variety of texts as part of a traditional American literature curriculum for comparison. Then, students independently read a novel from a selection of texts containing characteristics research showed boys tend to prefer. Quantitative data was collected from anonymous surveys, and qualitative data came from notes from one-on-one reading conferences. Results indicated an increase in engagement but not a change in overall reading satisfaction. This study has implications for English Language Arts teachers and Media Center Specialists looking to engage more males with reading.

Abstract only: No full text available.