Efforts by children's authors to reflect the full range of ethnic and gender groups are a waste of time in the eyes of many of their young readers, according to a study.
Researchers at Surrey University's Roehampton Institute canvassed 9,000 children on their reading habits and found that the youngsters did not feel it was particularly important to see images of themselves in literature. Age, sex, colour or country of origin were important to only a "very small number" of under-16s.
The study uncovered a considerable gap between girls and boys in terms of their use of literature for sex education.
More than eight out of 10 girls, but only four out of 10 boys, aged 11 to 14 had read about how to prevent pregnancy. The figures rose to more than nine out of 10 girls and more than six out of 10 boys among 14- to 16-year-olds. At least three-quarters of boys and girls 11 and over had read about Aids. Nearly 70 per cent of children aged 11 to 14 and nearly 80 per cent aged 14 to 16 said magazines were their main source of information about drugs, alcohol and solvent abuse.
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