Novels read monthly by 'less than one in two children'

Boy reading Boys preferred reading comics and newspapers

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Fewer than 50% of UK children aged eight to 17 read a novel outside class every month, research suggests.

The National Literacy Trust survey of about 18,000 school children suggests youngsters are more likely to read text messages and emails than fiction.

Most children (28.9%) estimated they had between 11 and 50 books in their homes.

But one in six said they rarely read outside the classroom.

Texts and emails

According to the survey carried out at 111 schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, nearly one in five children have never been given a book as a present. This was more common for boys than girls.

And about one in eight claimed they had never been to a bookshop and some 7% said they had never visited a library.

However, just under half of all children surveyed said they enjoyed reading a lot. Only one in 10 said they did not like it at all.

Text messages, magazines, emails and websites were the top leisure reading choices of young people. But Ebooks were read the least frequently.

The findings show that more girls admit they read text messages, magazines, emails, fiction, song lyrics and social networking message boards and poems than boys, while more boys said they read newspapers, comics and manuals.

Start Quote

Getting these children reading and helping them to love reading is the way to turn their lives around”

End Quote Jonathan Douglas Director of National Literacy Trust

The survey also raises concerns that some youngsters are not reading at all, which can hinder their achievement in the classroom.

One in six (16.4%) said they "rarely" read outside class, while 7.3% admitted that they never read outside class.

Trust director Jonathan Douglas said he was worried the youngsters who did not for pleasure would "grow up to be the one in six adults who struggle with literacy".

He added: "Getting these children reading and helping them to love reading is the way to turn their lives around and give them new opportunities and aspirations."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Sure, electronic formats are gaining popularity, but the book will always survive. I'm 17, and usually have at least a couple of books out of the library at any one time. Currently reading Foundation by Isaac Asimov, a good read. I very rarely text, maybe twice a month, because email is free. People have stories to tell, so they should try running more writing workshops. I know I'd go to one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    My 11year old son, who was read to every night (til about 12/18months ago), took to reading easily and avidly at 5/6 yrs old and has good reading ability, doesn't like reading 'stories'. He does however like factual books, eg horrible histories, and sports pages/magazines, and he will still listen if I offer to read to him. I guess he is reading for pleasure, just not in the same way as his mum!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    It is a fallacy that people who read novels are any more intelligent than the rest of the population, and the demise of novel reading amongst young people doesn't necessarily mean we have cause for concern. As the figures above show, people are still reading, but they are choosing other formats over the novel. Maybe the novel needs to evolve to incorporate digital innovations and increase appeal?

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    There's been too much emphasis on computer use in schools and not enough traditional reading/writing.Seems kids can use txt speak quite well,trouble is they write it on paper as well.I've seen this with nieces nephews over the years.Computers in schools should be used for specific tasks,not used in everyday learning as a substitute to handwriting/reading/text books.To coin a phrase back to basics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given came from an English Literature lecturer at college, who said, "Read anything and everything, good and bad, it doesn't matter, so long as you read!"


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