Ms Procter identified four factors influencing boys' reading ability: genes, cultural perceptions of 'real' masculinity, socio-economic status, and school-based programs. Using a wide-ranging survey, focus groups and teacher interviews, she gained detailed insight into the reading habits of Year 5 boys. She found that only 15 per cent of students were reading with parents/caregivers at home, and only three per cent with a father or older male figure - a significant concern given how much research points to the need for boys to read aloud to an adult every night and see good reading habits modelled to them. Vocabulary, intonation and fluency are greatly enhanced when students regularly read and are read to at home.
Utilising a number of interventions, including online reading programs, drama-based novel studies and cross-age buddy reading groups, Ms Procter explored strategies teachers could use to improve boys' engagement and effectiveness in reading. She found all three interventions equally increased boys' literacy abilities, with students especially engaging with the Drama Program, learning both literacy and empathy.
Ms Procter reflects on the opportunities in teacher-parent collaboration and classroom creativity for boys to enjoy and excel in their reading:
"Poor performance is not inevitable … Parents and teachers can work together in outlining good habits and ways of getting boys excited about their reading. This isn't just about boys reading a novel; it's about encouraging critical and creative thinking skills, which is one of the main components of the new Australian Curriculum," said Ms Procter.