E-books help boost boys' reading

Marvellous, this. A new study by the National Literacy Trust shows that boys - who, on average, lag behind girls in reading ability - deliver greater progress and interest in reading when using e-books.

The study, one of the first (and largest to date) in gauging the impact e-books have on attitudes to reading, reports that over an average of 4.2 months, boys reading levels saw an average improvement of 8.4 months. Over the same period, the improvement in girls' abilities was 7.2 months. Not only this, additional findings were also encouraging.

At the start of the project, 28% of boys thought reading was difficult, but this dropped to almost half that number (15.9%) by its end. Additionally, almost double the amount of boys thought reading was cool at the end of the study's running period - up 34.4% from the start to a final 66.5%.

The study's use of e-books seems to have had most impact on boys who didn't enjoy reading when the project started - e-books seemingly provided greater access and engagement for boys, with the proportion of "most reluctant readers" who enjoyed reading using technology up 49.2% to 64.2%.

There was a clear jump in enjoyment in paper-reading too (10% to 40%), while 24.5% of the "most reluctant readers" readers read for longer using technology (up from 8.1%). E-books' impact is clear here, but the Trust's Research Manager, Irene Picton, notes that really general reading progress is the overall winner:

"The study clearly shows that the impact e-books can have on reading enjoyment, particularly for boys, goes well beyond the novelty of a new reading format."

And the knock-on effects of this are obviously positive, Picton adding:

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.

The benefit of e-books isn't just due to engagement with technology; Picton notes options to change font size functionality are useful for learners. One of the biggest wins from the study though, is general rise in reading interest . Of all the pupils included, the number who said they cannot find things to read that interest them dropped from 31.3% to 19.7%. And that caps an excellent project by anyone's standards.


The National Literacy Trust study included 468 pupils from 40 schools makign use of RM Books - an e-books system specifically designed for use in schools.