Gender reading gap narrows

News - Children Thursday, 06 December 2018

Figures for the last three years show boys aged 11 catching up, but girls still ahead by 9%

Research released this morning from the Read On. Get On. (ROGO) coalition of 12 pro-reading charities and institutions, shows 70% of 11-year-old boys enjoyed reading in 2017/8, compared to 79% of girls.

However, the gender gap has narrowed since 2014/15 when 64% of 11-year-old boys enjoyed reading, compared to 78% of girls.

Daily reading frequency for boys is up from 44% of boys reading in 2014, to 58% this year. The figures for girls are virtually identical.

Diana Gerald, BookTrust ceo, said: "If boys are going to love reading, we need to show them it is fun, and give them books that will get them turning the pages. It doesn’t have to be fiction - non fiction books related to interests are brilliant - but don’t rule out fiction either. There are so many great books out there. The key is to let children choose and not get worried about the 'right' book. Let them find a book or series that they love, and they'll start an adventure that will spark a love of reading for ever."

Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of The Reading Agency, said: "Research shows that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background and that it has numerous benefits for children, including enhancing empathy and understanding of the self. As this analysis demonstrates, it is vital that we encourage children to enjoy reading in their spare time, to help them improve their reading skills and access all the benefits that reading provides.

"It is encouraging that the gender gap is narrowing and we were delighted that, once again we saw over 300,000 boys taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge - 45% of participants. We know that taking part in this programme, which brings hundreds of thousands of children into libraries every summer holiday can help to tackle the dip in children’s reading levels. We and all our library partners are helped in this by thousands of young volunteers; we know that they play a powerful role in inspiring children of all ages to read for pleasure."

Cressida Cowell has produced posters for Key Stage 1 adn 2 pupils and a top tips leaflet for parents to help the campaign. She said: "If we want our country, our children, to thrive in the future, we would do well to heed these statistics and put the joy of reading back into the heart of education and home life. The quest to get every child reading for pleasure is not just an optional extra – it’s an imperative."

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