A novel by internet star Zoella is more popular among secondary school pupils than any of the literary classics or books by big-selling contemporary authors such as JK Rowling or Jeff Kinney, according to a new study.
Girl Online by vlogger Zoella – whose real name is Zoe Sugg – was the top pick for those in secondary school, as well as a favourite among primary school children, when researchers examined which books pupils enjoyed the most.
The study, by online education company Renaissance Learning, is based on an analysis from software that assesses the books children read and their understanding of them using comprehension quizzes.
It looked at two categories: “most popular”, the books that children say they enjoy reading the most; and “most read” the number of times a title was read in school. The researchers found some differences between the two.
Ms Sugg’s debut novel Girl Online was the most popular book among secondary school children, followed by The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
Mr Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul was the most read book in secondary schools, and the most popular and second most read among primary pupils. Six more books from the Wimpy Kid series also made the most-read top 10s.
The most read book of all for primary pupils was The Twits by Roald Dahl.
The study found boys continue to prefer non-fiction works, and that at primary level they tend to focus more on one author, whereas girls prefer more variety.
It also noted that during primary school, pupils tend to read favourite books that are above the difficulty level for their age group, but this stops once they go to secondary school.
“At this point favoured books are no longer a year above chronological age, but a year below it, and in ensuing years the difficulty of books plateaus or declines,” the report said.
Report author Professor Keith Topping said: “This year’s findings reveal that, strikingly, children read their favourite books at a much higher level of difficulty and with a greater level of comprehension than those recommended to them.
“Clearly, this suggests a way of responding to the problem of insufficient challenge which is particularly prevalent in the secondary years. Instead of recommending books to children, teachers, librarians and parents should be finding ways to enable children to recommend books to each other.”