Fewer secondary school pupils are reading for enjoyment compared with their younger peers

16 May, 2016

April’s report revealed a gulf in reading enjoyment and attitudes between primary and secondary schoolers

April’s report revealed a gulf in reading enjoyment and attitudes between primary and secondary schoolers.

Last month our Corporate Social Responsibility partner the National Literacy Trust published the results of their sixth annual survey into the reading habits and attitudes of children and young people.

April’s report, Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2015 revealed a gulf in reading enjoyment and attitudes between primary and secondary schoolers.

Of the 32,569 children and young people surveyed, just 40.2% of Key Stage 4 pupils (age 14 to 16) said they enjoy reading either very much or quite a lot, versus 72.6% of Key Stage 2 pupils surveyed (age 8 to 11). Secondary school students also felt far less positive about reading than those in primary school.

Whilst these results are concerning they are nothing new; this disparity has been sustained since 2010 with the annual percentage gap in enjoyment of reading between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 pupils over the last six years averaging 31.1% difference.

Surprisingly, this gap in enjoyment and attitudes exists despite similar daily reading patterns outside of class for the two age groups.

However, this could be explained by looking into the reasoning behind why these students are choosing to read outside of class in the first instance, i.e. reading for fun or reading for information.

The report found KS2 pupils are more likely to read for fun and are more “traditional” in their reading consumption, choosing to read poems, non-fiction and fiction; whilst KS4 pupils are more likely to read for information and engage in more technology-based reading materials i.e. text messages, social networking, websites, and instant messaging.

This could be where the problem lies. Whereas traditional reading mediums use creative language and plot to engage with their readers, evoking an emotional response and igniting their imaginations, communication-based mediums are direct and instructive; they are not intended to be thought-provoking, and ask little of the reader in way of emotional investment.

In order for older pupils to achieve greater enjoyment from reading, they need to step away from technology and towards fuller reading materials, which will peak their interests and keep them engaged and receptive. (The Kumon Recommended Reading List has a wide selection of books suitable for children of all ages.)

Although overall levels of reading enjoyment and frequency have increased again, and are at their highest for a decade, more still needs to be done to get children of all ages reading, and importantly, reading for fun.

You can view the full report by visiting the National Literacy Trust’s website and downloading the report entitled Children’s and Young People’s Writing in 2015.