Disadvantaged boys learn to pick up an ebook

Reading online has improved children’s vocabulary, according to research

New technology is unlocking the key to the biggest problem that has been bedevilling the education world for years – the poor performance of white working-class boys in reading, according to research published today.

A study reveals that touch-screen technology has switched on to reading three- to five-year-old boys and, more generally, children from disadvantaged homes.

It shows that twice as many boys as girls look at or read online stories for longer than they read traditional books (24 per cent compared to 12 per cent). And almost twice as many children from disadvantaged backgrounds spend longer reading books online than they do browsing through traditional books, compared to their more affluent peers.

According to the National Literacy Trust – which carried out the survey with Pearson, the education company – reading online has improved children’s vocabulary.

Latest results from the phonics test for all six-year-olds show that white working class pupils are still lagging behind, with just 53 per cent reaching the required standard.