Students ‘seriously under-challenged’ by the books they are given at school, study claims

The Independent is reporting a study which suggests secondary school pupils are being  “seriously under-challenged” by the difficulty of the books they are given to read…

difference-between-book-level-and-natural-reading-level-by-year1

Image from www.whatkidsarereading.co.uk

A nationwide survey of more than 500,000 pupils at 2,200 schools found that children consistently choose texts beyond their reading age while in primary education but the trend is thrown into reverse as soon as they transfer to secondary school.

The annual What Kids Are Reading study of books read in schools found that youngsters preferred fiction that had been turned into blockbuster films such as the Hunger Games series rather than traditional favourites by authors such as Roald Dahl.

The finding suggests a disconnect between what pupils are reading in the classroom – where the adventures of Fantastic Mr Fox and the Wimpy Kid remain popular – and the tales they say excite them, such as the dystopian fantasies of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent novels…

Professor Keith Topping, an education specialist at Dundee University and the author of the report, said: “Primary school pupils, particularly in Years One to Five, show a strong preference for challenging books which are significantly beyond their natural reading age.

“We then see a marked difference in Year Seven where favoured books are no longer above chronological age, but six months below it and in ensuing years the difficulty of books plateaus or declines…”

More at: Students ‘seriously under-challenged’ by the books they are given at school, study claims

 

Read the full report and various key learnings from the What Kids Are Reading website

 

So the books secondary children actually enjoy most are more challenging than the ones they are most likely to be reading. Does this mean teachers should be nudging them towards more challenging choices in the first place? Let us know what you think…

 

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Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Just a thought, but could the children themselves make a decision regarding what they read/their education in general?

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Librarians at school where I work are fantastic & happily help students choose an appropriate book. Most the same I suggest

  3. pompeyanne

    SchoolsImprove down in biff chip and kipper world it can get very boring when they’ve been reading them for 3 years.

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Students must read books that they want to read – I was “force fed” books I didn’t like at school; it put me off for years

  5. morris_emma

    SchoolsImprove Daughter is in a middle school and in Yr5/6 she wasn’t allowed take out Yr7/8 books despite a reading age of 15.

  6. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove this is where pupils need good quality support in choosing and reading challenging books by teachers and librarians

  7. Sue_Cowley

    Nor_edu agreed. But I just read Hunger Games and was very taken with quality of writing and characterisation. Not all about ‘difficulty’.

  8. Sue_Cowley

    Nor_edu agreed. But I just read Hunger Games and was very taken with quality of writing and characterisation. Not all about ‘difficulty’.

  9. Sue_Cowley

    Nor_edu agreed. But I just read Hunger Games and was very taken with quality of writing and characterisation. Not all about ‘difficulty’.

  10. Nor_edu

    Sue_Cowley no!!! The quality of the written English is appalling- not good if you’re trying to teach sentence structure.

  11. PatricksPeople

    GlasgowTweacher MumfordSa Point: children choose texts beyond their reading age in primary then trend is thrown into reverse in secondary

  12. Tubby_Isaacs

    SchoolsImprove That’ll be why teachers don’t do all their teaching from the textbooks, as Liz Truss and others wanted.

  13. Mat_at_Brookes

    Nor_edu SchoolsImprove it would be silly to not read Patrick_Ness Chaos Walking trilogy – that’s someone who really can write

  14. Nor_edu

    Mat_at_Brookes SchoolsImprove Patrick_Ness ooh! Looks good- I’ve never read it. Is it American English though? Sue_Cowley more books 🙂

  15. Sue_Cowley

    Nor_edu Mat_at_Brookes Patrick_Ness Patrick has long been on my list, my kids love his stuff though I prob. let them read it a bit young.

  16. Mat_at_Brookes

    Nor_edu SchoolsImprove Patrick_Ness Sue_Cowley No, no, no. Mind you, I’d read him whatever the case! Watch the impact it has on the kids

  17. Mat_at_Brookes

    Sue_Cowley Nor_edu Patrick_Ness I think as long as you’re there to talk about what is happening (& have read it too) it doesn’t matter

  18. Mat_at_Brookes

    Sue_Cowley Nor_edu Patrick_Ness I remember my dad sitting me down to watch #OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest when I was 13-I was so moved by it

  19. Sue_Cowley

    Mat_at_Brookes Nor_edu my smallest one accidentally got hold of Knife of never letting go and read it. When I check w/ Patrick he said …

  20. Sue_Cowley

    Mat_at_Brookes Nor_edu … 8 was prob. a bit young. But she seems to have come out unscathed. It’s in my pile of YA to read. (bad mom)

  21. Mat_at_Brookes

    Sue_Cowley Nor_edu Not at all. That means she hasn’t read #AMonsterCalls…save that one until she’s a few years in secondary – wow!

  22. andylutwyche

    LearntSchool You make excellent points – politicians’ “one size fits all” view of education is more hindrance than help

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