The number of children who enjoy reading for pleasure has increased but the gender gap between girls and boys has widened, according to a new report from the National Literacy Trust (NLT).
For this year’s ‘Children’s and Young People’s Reading’, an annual report into children’s reading habits, the NLT surveyed young people aged eight to 18 in the UK in November and December 2014.
During that period, 54.4% of children and young people said they enjoyed reading very much or quite a lot, compared to 53.3% in 2013. Last year there was also an increase in the number of those who read daily outside school (41.4%, up from 32.2% in 2013).
The NLT asked participants about what types of reading the children did, dividing it into categories such as fiction, websites, text messages, song lyrics and e-books, and 46.7% said they read fiction outside the class. All formats had grown in popularity apart from magazines, which were read by 48.7% of children, compared to 52.7% in 2013.
However, the survey also showed that the gap between the number of girls who read compared to boys is wider than before, as 61.6% of girls said they enjoyed reading either very much or quite a lot compared with 47.2% of boys.
The gap rose from a 12.7 percentage point difference in 2013 to a 14.4 percentage point difference in 2014 because more girls said they enjoyed reading, while the number of boys who said the same thing remained static.
What an interesting report this is!
Coverage in the media yesterday made much of the fact that classic fantasy (Tolkien) has fallen out of favour amongst older readers and been displaced by ‘dark dystopia’.
But far more compelling is the data that shows how, in general, this demographic is not being challenged by their reading choices.
Children in the earlier part of their time at primary school are being stretched beyond what would be expected. Children are stretched by a smaller margin each year until Years 4 and 5, where they read at a level broadly equivalent to what would be expected. From Year 6 onwards, children are significantly under-challenged by their chosen reading material.
In her analysis of the report, The Guardian’s Alison Flood pointed out:
Apart from Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, in 17th place, every single title in primary-school children’s most-read list was by a male author, while in secondary schools, two Hunger Games titles by Collins, in fourth and 12th place, were the only books by female writers.
The full report is available for download:
The report, which is produced annually, is written by Keith Topping, Professor of Education at Dundee University, and is published by Renaissance Learning, one of whose products is Accelerated Reader.
• Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.
• Roughly 46% of traditional publishing’s fiction dollars are coming from e-books.
• Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don’t cover the difference.
• In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.
• When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.
In this report, we will also reveal how e-book earnings represent roughly 64% of a traditionally published fiction author’s income, and therefore why authors should focus less on statistics geared toward publisher earnings and trade bookstore sales and consider their own incomes instead. Finally, we will tackle the difficult question of just how many authors are earning a living wage today. The results are sobering.
This final chart reveals a startling insight: If the Big 5 hadn’t signed a new author since 2009, and simply released new works from their long-established authors, they would still be making 63% of the e-book revenue that they are making today. Ownership of backlist and long-tenured authors is quite clearly big publishing’s most powerful commodity.