Increasing numbers of UK schoolchildren are choosing to read in their spare time, with six in 10 having a favourite work of fiction, research suggests.
The National Literacy Trust questioned some 32,000 pupils aged eight to 18.
Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid was the most mentioned favourite work of fiction, followed byThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman said she was “delighted” more children were enjoying the pleasures of reading.
Enjoyment and frequency of reading are both at their highest levels for nine years, the surveysuggests.
- 2% thought reading was cool
- 2% thought reading was not cool
- 4% enjoyed reading “very much” or “quite a lot”
- 5% enjoyed reading “a bit”
- 10% did not enjoy reading at all
There was also an increase in the proportion who said they read daily outside class, from 32.2% in 2013 to 41.1% in 2014.
The charity attributes this sharp rise to initiatives such as Bookstart, the Summer Reading Challenge, its own Young Readers Programme and the work of a series of children’s authors who have campaigned as children’s laureates.
Most mentioned favourite fiction
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney
- The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
- Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
- Harry Potter – JK Rowling
- Gangsta Granny – David Walliams
- Alex Rider – Anthony Horowitz
- How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell
- Divergent – Veronica Roth
- Frozen – Calliope Glass
- The Fault in our Stars – John Green
Source: National Literacy Trust
Children are not only reading more fiction but also a wide variety of other materials, including:
- song lyrics
However, the research also suggests a persistent gender gap between girls and boys, with 46.5% of girls saying they read daily outside class, compared with 35.8% of boys.
Girls were also more likely to say they enjoyed reading very much or quite a lot: 61.6%, compared with 47.1% of boys.
Overall, more than half (55.2%) of children said they preferred watching television to reading, and almost a quarter (24.3%) believed their parents did not care if they spent time reading, rising to 31.5% among children on free school meals.
Trust director Jonathan Douglas described the survey as “encouraging” but said it was a “real concern that almost a third of the most disadvantaged children think their parents do not care whether they read”.
Children were reading a variety of different materials, including emails and texts
Ms Blackman called for work to continue “to ensure all our children develop the reading-for-pleasure habit to improve their life chances” and said it was vital children had access to libraries “to fulfil their true potential”.
War Horse author Michael Morpurgo said: “How good it is to have some heartening news about young readers.
“But much is still to be done. 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.
“And government too should remember that literacy must first and foremost be enjoyed if we are to engage our most reluctant readers.”