David Walliams overwhelms JK Rowling among readers in UK schools

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)…

More at: David Williams overwhelms JK Rowling among readers in UK schools

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…

Intruder, 17, sneaks into school wearing uniform - and spends one hour in class
Educating Yorkshire’s Jonny Mitchell has his say on discipline
Categories: Research.


  1. guernseylibrary

    Rustylink1 not surprised, kids need help choosing the right book for them, need librarians in secondary schools to guide them but right 1/2

  2. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary Totally agree. Another reason not to disparage any reading material … even some of UK’s nat,.papers or comics! Read 1000s

  3. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary In my day no advice whatever in school crculation library, only from an assistant at Guille-Allès … fantastic Victoriana!

  4. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary Books remain doors that open on the universe of knowledge. Admittedly a good internet can help with Wiki &Guttenber Galaxy!

  5. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary Books remain doors that open on Universe of Knowledge. Admittedly good Internet can help with Wikipedia &Guttenberg Galaxy!

  6. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary Without assistance there was always the thrill of discovering a good previously unknown book in new box of library books!

  7. guernseylibrary

    Rustylink1 don’t use wiki myself, have you ever clicked Edit tab on top rhs? Then click on some of the editor names…! Not all ‘experts’

  8. guernseylibrary

    Rustylink1 you probably had much less choice, not many books for teens in my day, kids or classics then adult world, now help needed more

  9. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary Jiues Verne, Conan Doyle,Tarzan, at G&S; & Famous5 in circulation librry were the major choices available.

  10. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary But I had a 1-Vol 1922 Encyclopedia with a few tiny black &white photo.s Priaux Library didn’t have much serious to offer.

  11. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary Today the variety of books with magnificent pictures in colour is incredible.Buy too many for grandsons…users of internet

  12. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary The extensive use of Internet leads to a differnt relalionship with the stores of knowledge represented in physical books.e

  13. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary The extensive use of Internet leads to a differnt relalionship with the stores of knowledge represented in physical books.

  14. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary We got one or two ‘new’ boxes of books a term. Some totally uninteresting.Just William from G&A orWizard was better reading

  15. Rustylink1

    guernseylibrary Boots had a library with some interesting mystery novels my Mother borrowed and let me read, eg ‘Miss Silver’ mysteries

  16. SammyEdge1

    SchoolsImprove David Walliams was a great choice of focus author for World Book Day tomorrow then primaryferndale

Let us know what you think...