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Boys and girls 'reading at the same level'

28th February 2012

Boys are no longer reading at a lower standard than girls, according to the latest study, which shows that an increasing number of male schoolchildren are now reading for pleasure.

Research carried out by Dundee University and funded by Renaissance Learning shows that girls are no longer outperforming boys across all age groups, with boys now choosing to read books with the same difficulty levels as their female classmates.

The study was led by Dundee University resident Professor Keith Topping, who used computer software to analyse the difficulty of the books UK children are reading and establish how often they are reading for pleasure.

The report suggested that reading preferences differ between genders, with boys far more likely to read non-fiction books, though children were united about who their favourite author is, with Roald Dahl the most popular among both boys and girls.

Commenting on the report, Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, noted that reading for pleasure is moving 'centre stage' among children.

'Education policy since the 2010 election has focused on the mechanisms of learning to read, in particular the promotion of systematic synthetic phonics,' he explained.

'Now politicians are increasingly identifying the importance of children's reading that engages their hearts, minds and imaginations in a way which nothing else can.'

The report recommends that more importance is placed on sustaining a greater challenge in children's reading, particularly during the transfer to secondary school, where the difficulty of the books being read appears to decrease, even among readers of a higher ability.

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