Days of children reading books 'are numbered'

The days of children reading traditional books are numbered, claims the man spearheading a campaign to improve literacy in schools.

Publishers must adapt titles to the demands of modern young readers who spend more time on the internet if they are to succeed in persuading the next generation to read, says Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust.

He made his remarks as researchers prepared to tell a conference starting today that children's reading habits slump dramatically after they start at secondary school. The typical eight-year-old reads nearly 16 books a year but, by the time they reach 15 or 16, this has dwindled to just over three books per year. The big drop-off starts after the first year of secondary school, when the number of books read falls from nearly 12 a year to just six.

The study, based on interviews with nearly 30,000 pupils aged seven to 16, also shows a growing trend towards reading comics, magazines, newspapers and online articles, and playing computer games, after the first year at secondary school.

"Reading books does not maintain the strength of its hold on young people as an activity," Mr Douglas said. "It begins to diminish from the age of 11. Publishers and the book trade must reinvent the book. They have to produce more graphic novels. Children are much more visually conscious than they were before – and the book trade must reflect this.

"Reading is not a static activity. It has always changed from one generation to another, depending on where literacy skills sat within society and what texts were available and why."

A research paper entitled What Kids Are Reading, by Professor Keith Topping of Dundee University, will be presented to a national conference on literacy and numeracy in Stansted today. It also reveals marked differences in the books that girls and boys choose to read.

Among pre-teen girls, Jacqueline Wilson is overwhelmingly their favourite author. Her books explore growing up and teenage relationships and emotional development. Boys prefer adventure stories such as J K Rowling's Harry Potter novels and children's books by Roald Dahl.

Many respondents did not believe they were engaging in reading if they were scanning items online. Mr Douglas said: "Twenty-nine per cent did not see themselves as readers but they were spending a vast amount of time reading online.

"They thought reading only related to books. This shows we will have to develop new strategies for promoting reading to children in future."

One way would to do this would be to ensure that more classic books and novels were made available online with illustrations, he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administration Assistant / Apprenticeship Industry

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for an e...

Recruitment Genius: NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Private Training Provider off...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...