Skip to Content

'Fall in children's reading'

27 February 2012

'The National Literacy TrustUK-based organisation which has campaigned since 1993 to improve literacy standards across all age groups. Excellent research information and details of the many initiatives the charity is currently involved in. It also has a useful page of news stories on UK literacy, which links to newsletter will soon publish new research that confirms that... between 2005 and 2011 the number of children who read fiction outside of the classroom has fallen from 51% to 46%. But these figures mask a much more alarming trend for boys' reading. Over the same period the gap between number of boys and girls who read fiction has increased from 3% to 10%.

However the research suggests that children are not simply switching from print to digital... Something more worrying is going on. The reading of almost all formats was down over the same period: websites fell from 63% to 49%, even emails fell from 53% to 50%

In fact, between 2005 and 2011 the number of children who read in any format every day went down from 38% to 29%, and the number of children who say they rarely or never read outside of class has gone up from 15% to 24%.

We are not seeing a migration from print to digital reading among young people, we are seeing reading falling in overall popularity as a leisure activity. We know that viewing video online is becoming more popular for all internet users than reading text. Reading itself is being squeezed.

How do we respond to this cultural trend and promote reading as relevant and irresistible?

The most important thing is to recognise that we are promoting reading, not one type of reading against another. In an age when the Man Booker Prize winner is likely to be read on a Kindle, to suggest that fiction reading is under threat from reading emails is like suggesting that the novel has been threatened for ages by the reading of letters. Approaches which promote all reading are needed. The technologies of reading are more dynamic than ever. The more we celebrate this energy, the more successful our promotion of reading will be. '

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the UK National Literacy Trust in his blog