Do boys learn to read differently than girls?

learn-to-read

Justin (parent) asks:

Gender Differences: Do boys learn to read differently than girls?

Reading Kingdom answers:

This is a fascinating question that has attracted attention for decades. Gender differences in reading clearly exist as witnessed by the fact that as a group, boys consistently lag behind girls in this important area. This difference is found at every age tested, with the problems worsening as boys move from elementary to middle to high school.

These results certainly suggest biologically based gender differences in learning to read. In addition, though much is still unknown, research in neuroscience is beginning to tell us the source for some of these differences. For decades now, we’ve known that reading is grounded in verbal skills. Often the term that is used is that reading is “parasitic” on spoken language. Research has shown that particular brain structures correlate with language ability. One such structure is the corpus collosum which is a bundle of nerves that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain. That structure facilitates “talk” between the two sides of the brain and inter-hemisphere talk benefits certain key aspects of reading. It just so happens that the corpus collosum is larger in girls, allowing them (as a group) to have “better communication” than boys between the two sides of the brain. This is only one of many differences in brain functioning between males and females with regard to reading. The area is a fascinating one and if you would like to pursue it, you might find it useful to read either or both Reading in the Brain by S. Dehaene or Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by M. Wolf

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