Max Anderson

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. After surveying the market, he sense the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot. He’s also begun a traditional series. Seven books are published, with an additional twenty-nine manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like being in an exciting or scary movie. Visit Max at: Books for Boys Blog, Author Web Site, Video - Captain Jack's Treasure, or My Youtube Videos.

Max Anderson

Birth Order and Reading Performance

Did you know that of the first twenty-three astronauts in space, twenty-one of them are firstborns? The other two grew up as the only child in their families. Did you know that many of the entrepreneurs in business were the middle child? Are you aware that a majority of our comedians are the youngest of the siblings in their families? These traits relate to birth order, or the position of children in a family. Some studies indicate that birth order is the most significant factor that influences personality.

Where do you fit? Were you the firstborn, middle child, only child, last child, twin, or a different position altogether in your family? As you’ve observed the distinct differences in your own children, have you ever considered what birth order might have to do with it?

I grew up in a family of seven children. The varied personalities of my siblings convinced me that we represented two or possibly three sets of birth-order traits. But my wife and I have just two children. Still, it’s been interesting to see how some of the birth-order factors have emerged within their two, very different personalities. With my college major in psychology, the subject of birth order has always been a source of fascination.

The following list of traits comes from the Child Development Institute, adapted from a study by Don Dinkmeyer, Gary D. McKay, and Don Dinkmeyer, Jr., Parent Education Leader’s Manual Coral Springs, FL, CMTI Press. See if you notice similarities from your own experience as you read through these major birth-order positions.

Only Child

Pampered and spoiled.
Feels incompetent because adults are more capable.
Center of attention; often enjoys position; may feel special.
Relies on service from others rather than own efforts.
Feels unfairly treated when doesn’t get own way.
May refuse to cooperate; plays “divide and conquer” to get own way.

First Child

Is the only child for period of time; used to being center of attention; believes he or she must gain and hold superiority over other children.
Being right, controlling is often important.
May respond to birth of second child by feeling unloved and neglected.
Strives to keep or regain parents’ attention through conformity; if this fails, chooses to misbehave.
May develop competent, responsible behavior, or become very discouraged.
Sometime strives to protect and help others.
Strives to please.

Second Child

Never has parents’ undivided attention.
Always has sibling ahead who’s more advanced.
Acts as if in race, trying to catch up or overtake first child.
If first child is “good,” second may become “bad”; develops abilities first child doesn’t exhibit.
If first child successful, may feel uncertain of self and abilities.
May be rebel.
Often doesn’t like position.
Feels “squeezed” if third child is born; may push down other siblings.

Middle Child of Three

Has neither rights of oldest nor privileges of youngest.
Feels life is unfair.
Feels unloved, left out, “squeezed”.
Feels doesn’t have place in family.
Becomes discouraged and “problem child,” or elevates self by pushing down other siblings.
Learns to deal with both oldest and youngest siblings

Youngest Child

Behaves like an only child.
Feels every one bigger and more capable.
Expects others to do things, make decisions, take responsibility.
Feels smallest and weakest; may not be taken seriously.
Becomes boss of family in getting service and own way.
Develops feelings of inferiority or becomes “speeder” and overtakes older siblings.
Remains “The Baby”; places others in service.
If youngest of three, often allies with oldest child against middle child.

NOTES: 1. The middle child of three is usually different from the middle child of a large family. The middle children of large families are often less competitive because parents don’t have as much time to give each child, so the children learn to cooperate to get what they want. 2. Only children usually want to be adults, so they don’t relate to peers very well. When they become adults, they often believe they’ve finally “made it” and can now relate better to adults as peers. 3. During their formative years, only children live primarily in the world of adults. They must learn how to operate in the big people’s world as well as how to entertain themselves. Thus they often become very creative in their endeavors.

Does the above information confirm some of your own experiences as a child, and as a parent or grandparent now?

Dr. Kevin Lehman asserts, “Birth order powerfully influences who you are, whom you marry, the job you choose, and the kind of parent you are.”

Birth order may also unlock some of the issues you face with the reading habits of children in your family or circle of friends.

A recent study, reported by the Education Resources Information Center, found that reading comprehension in second grade was not higher for firstborn and second-born students in second grade, but total reading achievement and comprehension turned out to be higher for firstborn and second-born sixth grade students than it was for those born later.

In addition, a California study reported that vocabulary scores were significantly related to birth order, family size, and socioeconomic status. Comprehension scores were significantly related only to family size and socioeconomic status.

If you’d like to do more reading on the subject of birth order, see the Time Magazine article “The Power of Birth Order,”  and Scientific American’sHow Birth Order Affects Your Personality.” 

Of course, many other factors affect who we are and what our potential in life will be. But it would be good to evaluate your young readers, in light of what others have observed and reported, by comparing birth order to performance in the children under your care.


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