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black boy reading

As an avid reader who is the son of avid readers I am disturbed by the decline in reading among young people. Well, let’s be honest, young men. It’s a fact that in centuries past the world of literature, used to be viewed as part of a mainly male profession.

The irony in today’s Dominican society, is that what was once seen as a male thing — namely reading — is viewed by today’s generation as the opposite. Boys today don’t read, just like they don’t cry.

In secondary schools all over the island, reading is viewed as “uncool.” But what’s worse, for some boys it is almost a condemnation against their masculinity. Books, of any kind, are foreign objects. They contain information, maybe some pictures, but they dare not been seen to contain that most catholic of qualities: pleasure.

Some all-boys schools have been forced to make the study of English language and literature compulsory; sensing that if given the choice, students would rather study other things like additional computers and mathematics. The freedom of critical thought, the challenging of world perspectives and the beauty of the written word contained in books are not enough to counter the taboo associations books now have. Books are for girls.

This attitude coalesces with a more general problem of male under-achievement, is an observable fact which has rotted our secondary school institutions from the inside out. Boys, in addition to not reading, apparently do not and are not meant to study. The result speaks for itself: girls today by far out-match boys in terms of academic and verbal excellence. Boys are relegated to an illiterate and unambitious ghetto, and are encouraged to stay there.

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