In the UK, Girls Like to Read Online, Boys Like Print — Who Knew?

In News by Dennis Abrams

UK Reading 2

By Dennis Abrams

The Guardian reports that a new study by the National Literacy Trust shows that “Girls studying for GCSEs [General Certificate of Secondary Education] are more likely to read online than boys of the same age.”

Girls have also “more firmly embraced digital literacy and formats such as Facebook, email and text messages,” while boys “are more comfortable with traditional printed media such as comics, manuals, and newspapers.”

The study, based on replies from 32,000 students at more than 130 schools throughout the UK, also revealed that girls at all age levels are more likely to read outside of schools, and black girls in particular show “a prodigious appetite for literature.”

And while girls studying for their GCSEs were more likely to go online to read emails and social media, they were also more likely to enjoy reading fiction then boys; who not only reported lower levels of reading enjoyment than girls, but also appeared to read less often and think less positively about reading in general than girls.

The study revealed that caucasian boys are the least “enthusiastic” readers with almost one in six admitting that they hadn’t read a book of any kind in the previous month, compared to just one out of twenty black girls who said the same thing.

By way of contrast, 16% of black girls reported reading 10 books or more during the previous month, “the highest reported figure among all ethnic groups of the children who responded.”

And in one fascinating, if slightly odd, finding from the report, “young people who received free school meals said they were more likely to read poetry outside of class than those who did not qualify for free lunches.”

The trust also cited the need for parents to understand how important it is for them to be involved in their child’s educational development, after nearly in four agreed with the following: “My parent’s don’t care if I spend any time reading.”

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literary Trust, told the paper that, “More must be done to help parents realize what a difference reading with their children from a young age can make to their future.”

The study found that girls who said they enjoyed reading “very much” outnumbered boys by 30% to 19%; while 62% of girls either enjoyed reading “very much” or “quite a lot” as opposed to only 47% of boys, among ages from eight to 18.

Michael Morpugo, whose novel War Horse was one of the most popular novels cited in the report said that, “Too many boys still seem disinterested in reading, and far, far, too many children simply never become readers at all. So we writers and illustrators and storytellers, and parents and teachers, and publishers and booksellers, must continue to play our part.”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.