Studying the Stories Behind the Headlines Helps Boost Children's Reading

14/09/2015 16:42 BST | Updated 11/09/2016 10:12 BST

This week we released encouraging findings from a new National Literacy Trust report for First News, the UK's only newspaper for young people.

We recently evaluated the impact of using the First News Reading Package in schools and found that taking part in literacy activities about the news can have a significant impact on children's reading skills and motivation.

The eight-week programme of activities about current affairs includes comprehension questions, quizzes and puzzles to develop pupils' vocabulary and spark their interest in reading articles.

We found that children who participated in the programme made significantly more reading progress than expected, including particular improvements in their inferential knowledge and deduction skills. They also showed more confidence in their own reading abilities after participating.

Surveys completed by pupils before and after they took part showed a positive change in their attitudes towards reading more widely. There were significant increases in the number of pupils reading a wider range of materials in their free time, including both fiction and non-fiction books. This is extremely encouraging as we know that reading outside of the classroom can have a significant impact on attainment.

The evaluation also showed a change in attitudes towards newspapers - children became 50% more likely to read them in their free time after taking part in the programme. Three in four children now think newspapers are interesting and more than half think newspapers are fun, up from a third.

Our findings show that children can really engage with newspapers and take pleasure in reading about current affairs. While this helps to shape their understanding of the world, the acquisition of broader reading behaviours and the reading progress made after taking part in the First News activities will help to develop their literacy.

Read the full report at

The National Literacy Trust is a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy. We run projects in the poorest communities, campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents, and support schools. To find out more, visit