Department for Education
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More boys getting hooked on reading for pleasure

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker yesterday welcomed new research that shows Government investment in books has led to more boys at primary schools reading for enjoyment and improving their reading skills.

The research also highlights how younger children are getting off to a flying starting by discovering the pleasure of storytelling and sharing books.

National Year of Reading

As part of the National Year of Reading last year, the Government launched two programmes aimed at encouraging more young people into reading for pleasure, targeted at boys aged five to eleven and all children aged three to five.

It also aimed to strengthen the partnership between primary schools, Early Years settings and public library services in England, with almost a million new books purchased as part of the £10 million investment.

The evaluation, carried out by the Museums and Libraries Association (MLA), also shows that:

  • around 330,000 boys aged five to eleven were involved in activities as part of the Boys into Books campaign including reading groups, storytelling sessions and library visits
  • over 1100 primary schools and 2600 Early Years centres have established new links with their local library for the first time, leading to a sharp increase in visits to libraries outside school hours
  • as part of the Book Ahead programme, children aged three to five took part in over 4500 storytelling session, 5400 nursery rhyme time sessions and 1600 book talks
  • positive improvements in literacy, listening and communication skills were made linked to the Boys into Books and Book Ahead programmes.

Speaking at a visit to Brompton Road Library, London, where he joined boys from St Cuthbert with St Matthias primary schools in a reading group, Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said:

It’s great to see that both the Boys into Books and Book Ahead programmes have had such success in helping young people fall in love with reading.

Getting children into reading books at an early age is crucial. There’s clear evidence that the number of words a child hears by the age of four and their early engagement with reading, are closely linked with later attainment at school.

We also know that boys lag behind girls all over the English speaking world, especially in reading and writing, more so for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Whilst a huge amount has been done to close the gap, there is always more we can do to get every child up to speed.

That’s why we are working to narrow the reading gaps from a younger age. The million new books distributed through these programme have made a real difference – and not just in the short term. They have led to a real change, reviving local libraries through partnerships with their early years settings and primary schools in their area.

Together with Sure Start Children's Centres and early years learning through play; increasing one to one tuition; supporting low performing primary schools; and filling the curriculum with topics and books that boys find interesting, we’re continuing to drive up standards.

Minister for Culture and Tourism, Margaret Hodge said:

Reading for pleasure is something that can comfort, delight and excite at every stage as we go through life.  And reading to gain knowledge is quite simply a fundamental element in coping successfully with the world around us.  So partnerships and projects like this are a brilliant way of helping children get started and gain something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Roy Clare CBE, Chief Executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) said:

Boys into Books has shown what can be achieved when libraries work in partnership with schools. Library staff have willingly shared their enthusiasm and skill in promoting reading for enjoyment to boys and the results are very positive.

The MLA would urge local authority Children's Services to encourage the partnerships forged in both these programmes so that these findings can be replicated and more children encouraged to discover the magic of reading.

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