Reading for fun is more than a story

Young people are more enthusiastic about reading today and they are reaping the benefits associated with reading for enjoyment.

Nearly 60 per cent of more than 42,000 8-18 year olds surveyed by the UK’s National Literacy Trust for its 2016 Annual Literacy Survey said they enjoyed reading “very much” or “quite a lot”. General levels of reading for enjoyment have increased in the annual survey since 2005 with a 15 per cent increase in recent years.

National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said it was great to see young people reading for entertainment, interest and enjoyment.

“We are thrilled that our research has found children’s enjoyment of reading to be at an all-time high,” Mr Douglas said.

“When children enjoy reading and have books of their own, they do better at school and later in life, so we must continue to do everything we can to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”

The survey revealed a noticeable drop in boys’ enjoyment of reading as they got older, with more than 72 per cent of 8- 11 year olds saying they enjoyed reading compared to just 35 per cent by 14-16 years.

Girls also experienced a drop in reading for enjoyment rates in the teen years, but not as dramatically as boys with a 30 per cent drop from 83 to 53 per cent in the respective age brackets.

The link between reading for enjoyment and academic performance was also strongly displayed in survey results, reinforcing previous research findings about the connections between reading for enjoyment, reading behaviour, motivation and skills.

Researchers focused on the link between the lengths of time students continued to read for enjoyment and their levels of classroom success. The longer a child read for enjoyment the greater the benefit, for instance a 10 year old had a reading age 1.3 years above them, 12 year olds who continued to read for enjoyment were about two years ahead in their reading abilities and 14 year olds were at a 17-year-old reading level.

“More pupils who enjoy reading read daily, more widely and more books compared with those who don’t enjoy reading. They are also more confident readers, spend less time online and are more motivated by interest and achievement and less by approval.”

The National Literacy Trust offers parents tips to encouraging boys to try reading for enjoyment;

  • Make reading active – get boys to “act out” what they have read
  • Provide male reading role models
  • Reading doesn’t just relate to books – magazines and comics are a great way to encourage boys to read
  • Give lots of praise
  • Use a hobby or sport as a hook
  • Build regular reading time into the day
  • Experiment with genres