05:51am Friday 10 April 2020

New report suggests gap is closing between girls' and boys' reading abilities

The annual report, ‘What Kids Are Reading 2012’, written by Professor Keith Topping of the University of Dundee and published by Renaissance Learning, included 1,237 schools and shows that although in some academic years girls are continuing to outperform boys, on balance across all years (1 – 11), the reading gender divide is closing.

The difference between boys’ and girls’ reading performance is widely acknowledged, but for the first time, we are seeing that girls are not always outperforming boys, with the report finding that girls are no longer choosing to read harder books than boys of the same age.

However, the reading preferences of girls and boys continue to be very different, with boys showing more interest than girls do in non-fiction, especially in the secondary years.

“Recognising and supporting these differences is vital to sustaining children’s interest as their reading progresses and they start to realise the pleasure that reading can provide both now and in later life.” Dirk Foch, Managing Director, Renaissance Learning.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, who forewords the report adds: “Reading for pleasure is again moving centre stage. Education policy since the 2010 election has focused on the mechanisms of learning to read, in particular the promotion of systematic synthetic phonics. Now politicians are increasingly identifying the importance of children’s reading which engages their hearts, minds and imaginations in a way in which nothing else can.”

In the report’s concluding points, amongst the key recommendations is the importance of sustaining a higher level of challenge in children’s reading, particularly as they transfer to secondary school, where the difficulty of books being read drops away, even for higher-ability readers.

The report also examines the most popular children’s books, with authors Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling continuing to be amongst the most read. Jeff Kinney (author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid) is also increasing in popularity amongst children included in the study.

Notes for Editors:

Renaissance Learning has been established in the UK for over 10 years. It works with schools, teachers, parents and children to improve attainment in reading, writing and maths, through the use of personalised practice to motivate students and immediate data for teachers to inform instruction and offer intervention when required. Accelerated Reader (AR) Advantage software has been adopted by thousands of schools worldwide, with many reporting an average of two years’ reading age growth in just one academic year

For more information visit: www.renlearn.co.uk.

About the ‘What Kids Are Reading’ report

‘What Kids Are Reading’ is an independent study written by Professor Keith Topping, Professor of Educational and Social Research, School of Education, University of Dundee and published by Renaissance Learning. Since the first edition, published in 2009, the report has captured information on a combined total of over 6.2 million books and almost 500,000 students to provide a detailed picture of what kids are actually reading and how their reading habits are changing.

To request a copy of the 2012 summary or access previous editions of the report, visit: www.readforpleasure.co.uk/wkar.php.

About the author

Keith Topping is Professor of Educational and Social Research at Dundee University.

Keith’s published works exceed 300 (books, chapters, peer reviewed journal papers and distance learning packages), with translations into 12 languages. Prior to entering Higher Education he worked for a number of Local Education Authorities and in Social Services and Health. Keith’s own main research focus is Peer Learning (including peer tutoring, cooperative learning and peer assessment) and other forms of non-professional tutoring (e.g. by parents, assistants or volunteers) – in core skills (e.g. reading, spelling, writing, thinking skills, science, mathematics and information technology) and across subject boundaries, in all sectors and contexts of education and lifelong learning. He also has interests in computer aided assessment, peer assessment and formative assessment.

For media enquiries contact:
Roddy Isles
Head, Press Office
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384910

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