The Guardian is reporting that the comedian David Walliams has overtaken JK Rowling and War Horse author Michael Morpurgo to become one of the most-read authors in the UK’s schools. There are also concerns about the level of difficulty of books being read, especially for secondary boys…
This is the first time Walliams has entered the “most read” chart. He comes in behind Horrid Henry creator Francesca Simon, in fourth, young children’s author Roderick Hunt in third, Roald Dahl in second and Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney in first place. This is Kinney’s first year as the single most read author in UK schools; last year he and Dahl were in joint first place, but this year Kinney has knocked the much-loved late British author off the top spot, held by Dahl every year since the report was launched in 2009.
Hunger Games novelist Suzanne Collins is in fourth place, Rowling, Julia Donaldson and Morpurgo in joint seventh, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas author John Boyne, and Owl Babies author Martin Waddell, in joint 10th.
The sixth What Kids Are Reading report, published today by Renaissance Learning, also claims there is “serious under challenge” when it comes to reading choices in secondary schools, and this is a “matter for alarm”, according to the author of the report, Professor Keith Topping.
While in primary school, the difficulty of books read by children is “on the rise” compared with last year, but by year seven, “children are choosing books at six months below their chronological age and from then on, reading difficulty plateaus or declines”, says the report. “Year six is the last year when children are reading more or less at their natural reading age.”
This is particularly evident when it comes to non-fiction, with primary school children reading books dominated by animal themes, but sport and football largely taking over by year eight, says the report. “Non-fiction difficulty levels decline significantly in secondary school. This is a genre favoured particularly by boys and where pupils would benefit from strong guidance to ensure a suitable level of challenge,” says the report. “By Year 8, sport and football have almost completely taken over the non-fiction charts, with 15 titles based on sports and seven of those dedicated to football or football stars. These titles are appealing to older boys but they are not sufficiently challenging for their level of ability, and the quizzing results also indicate that they are not necessarily reading these books with any great accuracy.”
1 Jeff Kinney (last year: joint 1st )
2 Roald Dahl (last year: joint 1st)
3 Roderick Hunt (last year: 2nd)
4 Francesca Simon (last year: 3rd)
5 David Walliams (new entry)
6 Suzanne Collins (last year: 4th)
7 JK Rowling (5th), Julia Donaldson (9th), Michael Morpurgo (6th)
10 John Boyne (new entry), Martin Waddell (8th)…
Your thoughts on the state of books being read by children at the moment? Why do you think that choices become less challenging than they should be after year 6? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…