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News story

New research finds that boys read less thoroughly than girls

24 Oct 2016

The reading habits of more than a million children have been analysed in two extensive new studies from the University of Dundee. The study found that boys of all ages read less thoroughly than girls, skipping parts of books and choosing reading material that is too easy for them.

One drew data from over 850,000 pupils in over 3,200 schools, while another looked at the results of reading comprehension tests taken by 150,220 pupils in 967 schools.

The studies also found that the genre of reading material had little bearing on reading  behaviours. Although boys are more likely to choose non-fiction instead of fiction, they are still not reading it as thoroughly as girls.

Our own research into pupils’ reading habits and attitudes has consistently found a significant gap between girls’ and boys’ enjoyment of reading, with our recent Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2015 report finding that 61.2% of girls say they enjoy reading very much or quite a lot, compared with 47.8% of boys.

The University of Dundee’s Professor Keith Topping, who carried out the study, noted that his research indicates that it is essential to find books that genuinely interest boys, in order to keep them focused.

We run a number of programmes focused on getting boys more interested in and engaged with reading.

Our successful Premier League Reading Stars programme uses the motivational power of football to inspire boys to read more and enjoy reading. Pupils are introduced to new books and reading material, and Premier League players share their favourite books and reading advice.

In 2014/15 our evaluation of Premier League Reading Stars showed that the programme increased enjoyment of reading in the children taking part from 44% to 59%, and increased reading confidence from 63% to 80%.

We also deliver an Improving Boys’ Literacy CPD training programme for teachers and literacy leaders. The three-day programme gives teachers the opportunity to understand more about the issues affecting boys’ literacy and develop a strategy for tackling it in their school.

Find out more about our CPD training.

Find out more about Premier League Reading Stars.

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