Pupils Who Turn to E-books are Weaker Readers

This was the headline of an article in The Daily Telegraph – May 16.

The article reported the results of  a survey of 34,910 eight to sixteen-year-olds which was undertaken by the charity, the National Literary Trust.  It found that nearly all children had access to a computer at home and 40% owned a tablet or smart phone.  It reported that the number of children reading from a screen every day had, for the first time, exceeded those who read printed material.

The study reported that children had been slower to make use of digital devices than adults, but that the number of young digital readers has doubled in the last two years.  Publishers and retailers have understood this and are offering a larger range of children’s books and comics available in digital form.

The study found that pupils who read only electronic books every day were considerably less likely to be strong readers than those who read in print, and they enjoy reading much less.  Fewer electronic readers have a favourite book.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, boys are more likely than girls to read from digital devices.

One interesting (and not unfavourable statistic) from the study is regarding the reading of news by pupils.  While the proportion of students reading newspapers has fallen from 46.8% in 2005 to 32.2% in 2012, more than 40% of children and young people were reading the news on their computer, smart phone or tablet. This suggests to me that the number of students who are taking an interest in the news is growing.

One socio-economic statistic is that children who receive free meals at school are less likely to read traditional books than their counterparts who do not receive free meals.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literary Trust said: “While we welcome the positive impact which technology has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, it’s crucial that reading in print is not cast aside.  We are concerned by our finding that children who only read on-screen are significantly less likely to enjoy reading and less likely to be strong readers.  Good reading skills and reading for pleasure are closely linked to children’s success at school and beyond.  We need to encourage children to become avid readers, whatever format they choose.”

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