The Evolution of Reading Patterns

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Studies also suggest that book reading among children from minorities and poor backgrounds is falling considerably. Photo - Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

UK’s National Literacy Trust Survey reveals that texts, emails, and Twitter and Facebook messages may be replacing books among children. The poll was held among 18,141, British children, between the ages of 8 and 17 across 111 schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They were quizzed on their out of school reading habits.

Out of the respondents:

  • 29% read everyday
  • 19% had never been given a book as a present.
  • Over 27% of the children flicked through comics.
  • 12% had never been to a bookshop and 7% had never been to a library.
  • 10% children said they had read 10 books in the last month.
  • 13% of the children did not read any books at all in the past month, and boys were nearly twice as likely than girls to say that they never read.
  • An increase in age was also related to increases the likelihood of children saying that they had not read a book in the past month. The 14 to 16 year olds were 11 times more likely than the 7 to 11 year olds to say they had not read a book in the last month
  • Less than half of the children choose to read a book outside of class at least once a month.

While reflecting on the results, Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said in a statement “Getting these children reading and helping them to love reading is the way to turn their lives around and give them new opportunities and aspirations.?

The lack of reading could lead to a lack of knowledge,and could have significant consequences for children as they enter adulthood. “We are worried that they will grow up to be the 1 in 6 adults who struggle with literacy to the extent that they read to the level expected of an 11-year-old or below,” Douglas feared.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, opined that children aged 11 should be reading 50 books a year. “The number of children who never read a book suggests the government has a huge challenge on its hands if the 50 books-a-year initiative is to reach every child,” said the National Literacy Trust.


Email and websites seemed to be replacing books. As per the results, half of the children said they read emails and websites at least once a month. Fiction and non-fiction books, read by 46% and 35% respondents respectively, have been replaced by magazines, which were read by 58%.

Boys seemed to prefer newspapers, while girls were more likely to read mails and websites. One of the more positive results was that even though they didn?t read exactly what they were expected to, 49% of those surveyed said they enjoyed reading very much or quite a lot, while 12% said they did not enjoy reading at all.

The Trust said that “fresh approaches” were needed to be implemented to encourage young people to read more. In a major international study of children’s reading last year, it was revealed that British children had fallen from 17th to 25th place in the world.

George Dugdale, the policy advisor from the Trust, said: “We recognise the need to embrace all new forms of technology whilst still retaining engagement with, and ability to use, more traditional forms. We strongly believe that children have the right to be supported to develop the literacy skills they need to live a successful, fulfilling and happy life in a world that is characterised by a wealth of different media.?

Children’s author Alan Durant, the author of Burger Boy?and?Football Fever, gave his own take on reading. He said: “Reading isn’t easy; it requires creative input from the reader to create images and bring to life the bare words on the page. TV is easy; you just sit back and have all the images fed to you.? He also believes that, “Reading has such an important function in developing children’s imagination that we must do all we can to encourage and support young readers and give them material that excites and inspires them.”

Sources: Reuters, Guardian, Huffington Post

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