Our research shows comedy could help boost boys’ reading and writing skills

23 Jun 2016
Comedy classroom

We've published new research today which indicates comedy could play an important role in engaging children and young people, particularly boys, in reading and writing for enjoyment.

Responses from 24,972 8 to 16-year-olds show that more children and young people (33.4%) read comedy outside class at least once a month than poems (17.4%), non-fiction (32.2%) or newspapers (25.9%).

The findings have been revealed as pupils across the country are encouraged to find the funny in literacy and take part in the BBC’s Comedy Classroom competition. In partnership with the National Literacy Trust, the competition gives pupils aged 13 to 15 the chance to have their comedy writing made and broadcast by the BBC.

The survey shows that reading and writing comedy is particularly popular with boys. Despite reading significantly less than girls overall, boys read more comedy outside the classroom every month than girls (38.4% compared to 29.1%). Boys are twice as likely as girls to put pen to paper and write comedy outside class (16.5% v 9.9%).

Our reading research shows that a gap persists between girls’ and boys’ reading habits and attitudes. Almost two thirds (61.2%) of girls enjoy reading versus half (47.8%) of boys, while half of girls (49.5%) read daily outside school compared with a third (36.0%) of boys. Our previous research shows the gender gap is also reflected in children and young people’s writing behaviours and attitudes.


Our research suggests comedy could play an important role in engaging boys, who tend to read and write less than girls outside school. While a third of pupils are already reading comedy regularly, significantly less are writing comedy outside of school. The teaching resources we have created to support the Comedy Classroom competition help teachers to introduce their pupils to comedy writing and show them just how easy and fun it can be.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust