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Is Four the Magic Number? Number of books read in a month and young people’s wider reading behaviour

Added 15 Dec 2011 | Updated 27 Jul 17

Read about the number of books young people read in a month and how this links with other reading variables, such as reading enjoyment, attitudes towards reading, reading frequency and reading length as well as reading attainment.

The idea for this paper came about when Michael Gove, then Secretary of State for Education, announced in 2011 that British children were not reading enough and should, he believed, read 50 books a year. This idea had come from a charter school he had visited in the US and was met with some degree of scepticism by authors and professionals who questioned whether a focus on quantity rather than engagement with books, especially at a time when libraries were being closed across the country, was the best approach to take.

Putting aside the politics of this proposition, this paper explores the evidence that reading four books a month instead of, say, one or ten has an impact on reading attainment and other reading variables. 

Findings are based on an online survey we conducted in November/December 2010 in which 18,141 young people participated.

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