Professional rugby league players as reading mentors for primary school boys

Suzan Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports on case studies spanning four consecutive years (2005- 2008) focused on addressing and challenging Australian primary school boys’ disengagement with English, particularly reading, using an action research process informed by both quantitative and qualitative data. Primary participants were all male and ranged from 8 to 11 years of age. Boys were identified and selected for each case study based on the questionnaire and interview results from whole grade surveys of both males and females. The data results identified the boys with negative views of literacy and boys who identified reading as being a feminine activity, thereby narrowing their perceptions of masculinity. These boys were involved in a reading/mentoring program with high profile professional Rugby League players. The celebrity rugby league players were involved in ten weekly mentoring and reading sessions with male participants each year. These sessions focused on building positive male identity, shifting negative attitudes to reading and challenging negative stereotypes of both professional sportsmen and boys as readers. After each of the case studies, quantitative and qualitative data indicated a positive change in the participants’ attitudes towards reading as well as their perceived stereotypes of males as readers and increased involvement in voluntary reading.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalTHYMOS : journal of boyhood studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • boys
  • reading
  • mentoring
  • male identity
  • relationships


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