Gender gap in children’s reading narrows

Gender gap in children’s reading narrows

The gender gap in the number of children who say they enjoy reading has narrowed, with boys aged 11 lagging only 9 percentage points behind girls of the same age, according to the Read On. Get On coalition, as the National Literacy Trust (NLT) warns children's daily reading levels lag behind their reading skills.

The coalition, whose members include the NLT and BookTrust, said 79.4% of girls aged 11 in the 2017/18 academic year enjoy reading, compared to 70.4% of boys. The gap was wider in the 2016/17 academic year when 81.2% of girls but only 68.5% of boys said they enjoyed reading.

This time, the percentage of 11-year-old boys who enjoy reading has increased six times faster than the percentage of girls who enjoy reading, said the coalition, which looked at data from the ROGO (Read On. Get On) Index. The index collates data from different sources, including the government’s Key Stage 2 national curriculum assessments and the NLT’s Annual Literacy Survey of 3,363 11-year-olds, who were interviewed between November 2017 and January 2018.

The survey found girls outperformed boys terms of reading ability because 89.1% of girls could read at the expected level at their age, compared to 83.2% of boys. And more girls said they enjoyed reading (79.4% versus 70.4%).

In addition, 11-year-olds who enjoyed reading were three times more likely to read outside school on a daily basis compared to those who don’t (60.9% versus 20.1%), said Read On. Get On.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “The relationship between children’s enjoyment of reading, how often they read outside school and their academic attainment is critical. Despite positive trends in boys’ reading enjoyment, children’s overall levels of reading enjoyment and daily reading levels continue to lag behind their reading skills. To give children the best possible opportunities in life, we must close this gap.”