Enjoyment of reading wanes as children grow older


Just 40 per cent of Key Stage 4 pupils say they enjoy reading, according to a new report by the National Literacy Trust. This is compared to 72 per cent of pupils in Key Stage 2, highlighting a worrying decline in enjoyment of reading as children grow older.

The new research shows that secondary school students also feel much less positively about reading than primary school students. Pupils aged 14 to 16 are hugely less likely to say reading is cool: 24 per cent, compared to 70 per cent of children aged eight to 11.

Hearteningly, though, overall levels of reading enjoyment and frequency have increased again and are at their highest for a decade. Screens dominate children’s reading habits, with pupils spending more than twice as much time reading online than they spend reading books: an average of 100 minutes a day, compared to 42.

The gender gap persists, however, with 61 per cent of girls enjoying reading versus 48 per cent of boys. Half of girls read outside of school, compared to a third (36 per cent) of boys.

The research shows a clear correlation between attainment and reading enjoyment, frequency and attitudes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, children and young people who enjoy reading very much are three times as likely to read above the level expected for their age, when compared to young people who do not enjoy reading at all (37 per cent versus ten per cent).

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: ‘There has been a huge amount of energy put into reading for enjoyment at primary stage... These energies need to be released into the secondary stage where, despite great work by English departments and librarians, pupils seem to be struggling to sustain their enjoyment of reading. Influencing factors could be the pressures of academic studies, lack of time, less campaigning at secondary stage by the third sector and a reduction in influence of parents.’

School Leadership Today