European educational systems have long been striving to ensure equitable learning opportunities for every student. Providing equitable opportunities for girls or migrant students has traditionally been at the centre of this effort; providing them for boys is a relatively recent aspect, but it is increasingly becoming an issue of outmost urgency. Throughout Europe, there is dire need for special attention to adolescent boys’ literacy development and attitudes, since this groups is more likely to be at risk. Evidence from around Europe and the globe consistently shows that:

  • Boys have the lowest scores on standardized reading tests.
  • Boys are 3 to 5 times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with reading disabilities
  • Boys dominate the rolls of remedial reading classes
  • Boys are 50% more likely to be retained a grade than girls
  • Boys form the overwhelming majority of high-school dropouts and delinquents (Brozo, 2010; PISA, 2012).

Numerous studies connect adolescent boys’ academic failure to their low reading engagement, pointing out that secondary-school boys are the group most likely to state that reading is boring, that they find it hard to find interesting books, and that they only read at school. Since “engaged readers have a much greater chance of staying in school, expanding career and life options, and maturing into self-actualized adults” (Brozo, 2010), the need to set boys’ reading engagement at the top of our priorities becomes evident.