If you want to get boys reading more, try an ebook. This was the surprise finding from our study which revealed that ebooks made boys better, keener and more confident readers.
The study, called The Impact of ebooks on the Reading Motivation and Reading Skills of Young People: a study of schools using RM Books, published today, is one of the first and largest to explore the impact of ebooks on reading attitudes, behaviour and attainment in UK schools. Forty schools took part by using RM ebooks for their own literacy projects and a total of 468 pupils were surveyed before and after participating.
The research found that during these projects, which lasted for an average of 4.2 months, boys' reading levels increased by an average of 8.4 months, compared to 7.2 months progress made by girls. At the same time, the percentage of boys that felt reading was difficult almost halved from 28.0% to 15.9%, suggesting that confidence in their own reading ability also increased as a result of this project. Twice as many boys also thought reading was cool at the end of the project, increasing from 34.4% before to 66.5% afterwards.
The ebooks study had the greatest impact on boys who did not enjoy reading at the beginning of the project with the percentage of the most reluctant readers saying they enjoyed reading using technology increasing from half (49.2%) to almost two thirds (64.2%). It was fascinating that the most reluctant boys said that as well as reading more often on screen after the study they also read four times more paper books, indicating that the project has opened up the world of reading for this group of pupils on paper as well as on screen.
The National Literacy Trust's annual literacy survey from 2014 reflects the prevalence and popularity of reading on screen. The survey found that 88.6% of the 30,032 children and young people aged 8-16 asked said they read using technology. This research found that 75.2% said they enjoyed reading using technology compared to 56.7% who said they enjoyed reading on paper. The survey noted that reading ebooks tripled between 2010 and 2014 from 5.6% to 15.3%.
We want as many children as possible to enjoy reading because they are more likely to do better at school and beyond and we must recognise the increased reading opportunities that technology-based formats can offer pupils. There are many reasons why children like to use ebooks. These include that the text size and overlay colour can be changed and that they can choose how many words there are on each page, which can be very helpful for children who struggle to read. Most importantly, technology can get pupils to read in homes where there are few books or none at all.
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: www.literacytrust.org.uk