Jo Davison: Let’s have a pop at some reading

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I suppose I ought to keep this brief, so as not to alienate young male readers.

Not that I expect to have any, actually.

And I’m not taking that personally; a huge amount of research says boys don’t read anything much at all, never mind me.

They’ll scan the back of the Coco Pops packet (I was going to say Cornflakes, but what right-on kid eats them these days?). And they’ll speed-read the instructions on their latest PlayStation game. Possibly. But that’s about it.

I – and stacks of parents of boys – don’t need research to tell us this. We read to them every night, then buried them in books in our attempts to turn them into the mini bookworms all girls naturally seem to want to be.

My son’s shelves are crammed with books I bought that he never read. They range from the thick, worthy tomes on his school’s suggested reading list (what a joke) to slender little things he should have raced through. Bar a magical interlude when Harry Potter arrived, none worked. Even Harry’s spell wasn’t long-lasting; I’d like to bet more girls than boys made it all the way to the Deathly Hollows.

These days, he’ll read biographies and factual books, but literature leaves him cold and that’s sadder even than Lorna Doone.

There’s a new range of very brief and action-packed storybooks coming out to tempt lads to read, but I have a better idea: start printing the first chapter on the back of the Coco Pops box...