E-books can boost boys’ reading ability, says study

E-books can help to boost boys’ abilities in reading and encourage them to enjoy the subject, according to research.

A new study found that youngsters who used the technology were more likely to have their nose in a story for longer, were more likely to say that reading is cool and were less likely to find reading difficult.

The findings show that boys had a bigger attitude change towards reading after picking up an e-book than girls.

The study, published by the National Literacy Trust, is based on a survey of 468 pupils at 40 schools across the UK, all of whom took part in an e-reading project.

Overall, youngsters taking part in the scheme saw their reading levels increase by an average of eight months – with boys improving by an average of 8.4 months, compared to 7.2 months for their female classmates. The projects that made up the study ran for between two and eight months, with an average project length of 4.2months.

And while just over half (51.8 per cent) of children saw reading as cool before the project, this rose to around two thirds (65.9 per cent) afterwards, with twice as many boys describing reading in this way (66.5 per cent compared to 34.4 per cent at the start of the initiative).

At the same time, the proportion of boys who described reading as difficult fell from 28 per cent to 15.9 per cent.

There was an 11 per cent increase in the number of boys who enjoyed reading using technology, a 25 per cent rise in the number who read daily using e-books and a 22 per cent increase in those who read for an hour or longer.

In general, there was also a drop in the percentage of schoolchildren who said they could not find things to read that interested them (down from 31.3 per cent to 19.7 per cent).

Irene Picton, research manager at the National Literacy Trust, said that the study showed the impact of e-books on reading enjoyment “goes well beyond the novelty” of reading in a new format.

“Children who enjoy reading are more likely to do better at school and beyond, so finding ways to help children enjoy reading and to do so more often is vital to increase their literacy,” she said.

“It is important to recognise the increased reading opportunities that technology offers pupils and how it can help children who struggle to read, for example, by giving them the option of increasing the font size of the text. This study indicates that technology has most potential to engage children, particularly boys, who do not enjoy reading.”

The study was funded by RM Books, which provides an e-book platform for schools that enables books to be read online or on Apple or Android devices.

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