Favourite read is a closed book for many children

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The Independent Culture

One child in five was stumped when asked by researchers to identify a favourite book.

One child in five was stumped when asked by researchers to identify a favourite book.

A survey of 300 seven to 14-year-olds published today claims they have not read enough books to be able to name a preferred read. Of the boys, 24 per cent were unable to answer compared with 16 per cent of girls. Thirty per cent of 13 and 14-year-olds were unable to name a book they liked.

Michael Morpurgo, the Children's Laureate, blames the findings on teaching methods - and the introduction by the Government of a rigidly monitored compulsory literacy hour in every primary school.

"One reason is that many find it boring, part of a school-based subject called 'literacy'," he said. "Read a book and you have to answer questions on it or analyse it or comprehend it. Where's the joy in that? Where's the excitement?"

The majority of those that did name their favourite books, 52 per cent, opted for Harry Potter as one of their three favourites. The series by J K Rowling was twice as popular as the runner-up - J R R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The research was carried out for the Prince of Wales Arts & Kids Foundation, which is launching the first national festival of stories and storytelling for children in September.

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