Is it hard to teach boys to read, or to enjoy reading? All my older children are boys, so it's hard for me to draw much of a comparison with girls. I can, however, tell you that each of my children has a different level of ability and drive to learn the subject.
One of my older children was able to be taught to read and write reasonably fluently before he entered kindergarten. Another teen is still functionally illiterate, and though nearly an adult is still working at a second/third grade level. And I mean a public school second/third grade level, meaning no disrespect. It is what it is. He has been quite resistant to learning the subject at home and at school. It has never been easy for him.
So, what should educators do? Keep a huge child back one year after another, until the student is over six feet tall and in third grade still? I'm not really a fan of "social promotion," but we have a few limits on the "you don't pass into the next grade until you can do x, y, and z" thing for a good reason. A truly effective approach would allow for ability grouping and more than that, opportunities for children to go from one group to another by subject.
Emperor, for example, is pretty good at math and is halfway through pre-algebra, but his writing is not at the same level. I should imagine if I were to enroll him in public school tomorrow, they'd look at his handwriting and send him to third grade and give him a bunch of occupational therapy. Maybe they would treat him as though he needed to learn his times tables. But just because someone is always talking and hopping about and can't cut within the lines doesn't mean his intelligence is low.
Perhaps I underestimate the public schools. But I remember his going into kindergarten being able to add columns of multidigit numbers. They kept him in with all the other students for math. These kids, as a class, were still learning the concept of "one" teddy graham added to "one" teddy graham means there are now "two" teddies. That's actually fine for most kindergarteners, but it isn't really appropriate for Emperor. And he was in class for a full week and a half. I told them about his abilities, but they didn't seem to want to believe me or want to ever test him for any gifted program. Just stuff him in with everyone else. I have myself a good feeling they'd have never gotten 'round to doing a blessed extra thing with him.
Oh, I am SO GLAD I was able to homeschool him. Mind you, socially, he is so not there, but then again, he wasn't doing so hot in that department in public school, either.
I think being able to just sit and spend TIME with reading helps a lot, if you have a willing student. In fairness, schools with large classes can't have that much one-to-one reading time where someone is really listening to the child discover literature one sound at a time. I'm thankful for the time I was able to spend with my homeschooling boys.
I saw this website and was inspired to write the post you're reading. I love how the literature for boys is divided into categories like "aliens" and "at least one explosion" and the like. I hope you enjoy it.