42% of children lose interest in reading by 11


More than two-fifths of UK teachers say children are turned off reading for pleasure by the time they finish primary school, according to new research by Pearson.

The research found that 42% of children lose interest in reading by age 11. More than a third of children (42%) are likely to have turned off reading for pleasure before they reach secondary school age (11 years old).

Of the 400 school teachers questioned:

  • 29% reported that in a typical English class, more than half of their pupils show little or no interest in reading at all
  • 94% of teachers reported that their pupils prefer spending time online to reading a book
  • 97% felt that parents must do more to encourage their children to read.

For boys in particular, teachers suggested they reacted better to horror 93% and science fiction 92%. However, both boys and girls appeared to have an appetite for fantasy novels. 83% of teachers state that boys are likely to find fantasy novels engaging and 65% state the same for girls. This trend is evidenced by the strong teen fantasy book market for series like Twilight, The Fallen or The Hunger Games.

The research has also revealed that over three-quarters (78%) of teachers thought that a greater use of online or digital technology to practice reading could help with literacy at Key Stage 3.

Children's author Frank Cottrell Boyce said: "It's worrying to think that so many young children are not being inspired to pick up a good book and get lost in a story.

"According to Unesco (the United Nations agency which promotes knowledge), the biggest single indicator of whether a child is going to thrive at school and in work is whether or not they read for pleasure.

"Clearly we need to make sure we are providing our children with the right types of books which stimulate their interest, capture their imagination and make them turn the next page."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: "In a world of so many distractions for young minds, the place of literature is more important than ever.

"Children need to master the basics of reading as early as possible in primary school so they can then go on to explore magical and powerful books such as Private Peaceful, Harry Potter, and, in good time, books such as Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm and those by Charles Dickens."

The research was carried out to mark the release of a new set of HEROES classroom reading books, edited by top children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce and designed to stimulate children’s interest in reading.