National reading challenge to boost ‘book culture’ in schools

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Children would rather read books that make them laugh than stories featuring TV characters, according to new research.
 
The research report by Pearson to mark the launch of its Read for My School national reading competition, found that one in five of the books chosen by 100,000 children in more than 3,000 schools were in the “Laugh out Loud” category.

The annual competition challenges pupils in England to read as many books as they can in two months – either online from a free digital library, or offline. A review of last year’s competition found that humour was the main draw for thousands of primary age children when choosing what to read.

Nearly 81,000 of the books read were in the “Laugh out Loud” category beating the “Film and TV” genre in to second place (62,617 books read) despite the domination of TV in children’s lives.  Some of the most read authors in the Laugh Out Loud/Humour category included Roald Dahl, Jeremy Strong and Morris Gleitzman, with more books being added this year by authors like Frank Cottrell Boyce, Michael Rosen, Benjamin Zephaniah and Roger McGough.

The findings provide important information for schools and libraries which need to ensure that the books and online books they stock capture children's interests in an age when TV, video games and social networking are competing for attention.

Research published by the National Literacy Trust revealed that:
  • Since 2005, the number of children who said they read in their own time had fallen from 38 per cent to just over a quarter (28.4 per cent).
  • More than one in five (21.5 per cent) children said that they were embarrassed to be seen reading, up from 16.6 per cent two years ago.
  • While eight to 11-year-olds enjoyed reading more, read more often and think more positively about reading than older children, there was a significant drop in the proportion who read for pleasure or who read daily. Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 12 per cent slide in the number of eight to 11-year- olds who said that they enjoy reading either very much or quite a lot.
  • Children and young people in 2012 generally held more negative attitudes towards reading than just two years ago. The proportion claiming that they had trouble finding things to read that interested them rose from nearly a quarter (24 per cent) in 2010 to 31.6 per cent in 2012.

The most recent research, published last year by the Institute of Education, London, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of ten and 16 than those who rarely read.

Read for My School, is open to primary pupils from Year 3 (seven and eight-year-olds) up to 11 year-olds and also as a national pilot children aged 11 to 13 years old in the first and second year of secondary school (Years 7 and 8).

The programme and its expansion come in response to the new school curriculum which places more emphasis on the importance of reading widely for pleasure.

Children have free access, via the Read for My School website (www.readformyschool.co.uk), to a wide-ranging library of more than 100 online books and they will also be free to read and log books of their own choice offline.

School Leadership Today
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