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Children 'choosing easier books'

3rd March 2011

Children are increasingly choosing to read books well within their reading standard rather than test themselves, new research from the University of Dundee has found.

A study of reading habits among 150,220 primary and secondary school pupils showed that The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle was one of the most popular books for 14 to 16-year-old readers, despite being primarily aimed at a much younger audience.

Professor Keith Topping, from Dundee's School of Education, said there were 'disturbing signs' in the study, particularly as the standard of reading among UK schoolchildren has seen the country fall from 17th to 25th in the Programme for International Student Assessment league table.

'Although in a small number of years the difficulty of books remained the same as our study in 2010, in the majority of years the difficulty of books has sharply declined. We have to ensure our children are reading at or above their reading age,' he added.

A separate study carried out at the university also found that classic novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Wuthering Heights have now fallen out of the top ten most popular books among teenagers, replaced by titles including the Harry Potter series.

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