The National Literacy Trust (NLT) has today (9th December) released a report claiming that e-books improve boys’ enjoyment of and progress with reading.
The report, funded by school e-book provider R M Books, is based on a survey of 40 schools and 468 pupils in the UK, ranging in ages between eight and 16. All participating schools were asked to design their own reading project and track pupils’ reading habits using R M Books software.
According to the findings, boys’ reading age improved an average 8.4 months over the course of the study. The percentage of boys that thought reading was difficult almost halved from 28% to 15.9%, and after the project ended more than two-thirds said reading was cool (66.5%), compared to 34.4% at the start.
Girls’ reading also improved, although the differences were not so marked, as their reading levels increased by an average of 7.2 months.
Reading enjoyment increased in particular for boys who started with low levels of engagement, and the number who spent more than an hour reading digitally tripled from 8.1% to 24.5%.
Overall, 59.4% of all pupils who took part said they enjoyed reading before the study began. This rose to 64.1% post-project.
When asked what they liked about reading digitally compared to paper, one said paper “is a bit boring unless it’s something you’re really into”, whilst another said: “In a book your vision goes, there are so many words, words after words after words, but on a screen you can scroll down how you’d like.”
However, one respondent said paper was better because “on a phone you have loads of apps that notify you and on a computer if you get bored you can just go and search for something else and play games and stuff”.
Irene Picton, NLT research manager, said the study “clearly shows” the impact e-books can have on reading enjoyment. “Children who enjoy reading are more likely to do better at school and beyond, so finding ways to help children enjoy reading and to do so more often is vital to increase their literacy.
She added: “It is important to recognise the increased reading opportunities that technology offers pupils and how it can help children who struggle to read, for example by giving them the option of increasing the font size of the text.”
The NLT also quoted stats from its most recent annual literacy survey, which showed that 75.2% of children enjoy reading using technology, whilst only 56.7% who enjoy reading on paper.
The full study into e-reading, entitled The Impact of e-books on the Reading Motivation and Reading Skills of Young People: a study of schools using RM Books, is available on the NLT’s website.