A report into boys’ reading has found that three out of four UK schools are worried about boys underachieving in reading, but that there is no national strategy to tackle it. Last year some 60,000 boys failed to reach the expected level in reading at age 11.
The Boys’ Reading Commission, conducted by the All-Party Parliamentary Literacy Group Commission and compiled by the National Literacy Trust, found that boys are more likely to say that they prefer watching TV to reading (62% to 45%), that more boys than girls cannot find books that interest them (30% to 23%) and that boys are less likely to be given books as presents than girls (79.7% versus 85.3%)
It is also evident that the texts children read in school and how reading is taught and assessed impacts on boys’ achievement. At age five boys’ reading already lags behind girls but this gap widens during their time in school until age 16, when 14% more girls than boys achieve an A to C in English GCSE.
The commission makes a series of recommendations to Government including the development of a ‘toolkit’ of effective practice to show schools how to support boys' reading; school support for reading for enjoyment not just the mechanics of reading; boys to have weekly access to male role models that encourage reading; family initiatives to help parents, especially fathers, to support literacy; and library support for boys least likely to be supported in their reading at home
Chair of the commission, Gavin Barwell MP, said: "Our report shows that the gender gap is not biological and therefore not inevitable.
"It is complex—there is no silver bullet—but by promoting reading for enjoyment, ensuring teachers are aware of the reading materials that will engage boys, getting our libraries to focus on those who are falling behind, making sure fathers understand their role as reading role models, getting volunteer male reading role models into our classrooms and using the media to change gender
perceptions of reading, we can close the gap."
The commission took evidence from teachers, 226 schools and 21,000 young people in the UK.