Ebooks boost boys' reading abilities, research finds


Ebooks can help to boost boys' abilities in reading and encourage them to enjoy the subject, according to research.

A new study found that youngsters who used the new technology were more likely to have their nose in a story for longer, were more likely to say that reading is "cool" and were less likely to find reading difficult.

The findings show that boys had a bigger attitude change towards reading after picking up an ebook than girls.

The study, published by the National Literacy Trust, is based on a survey of 468 pupils at 40 schools across the UK, who took part in an e-reading project.

Overall, youngsters taking part in the scheme saw their reading levels increase by an average of eight months - with boys improving by an average of 8.4 months, compared to 7.2 months for their female classmates.

And while just over half (51.8%) of children saw reading as "cool" before the project, this rose to around two thirds (65.9%) afterwards, with twice as many boys describing reading in this way (66.5% compared to 34.4% at the start of the initiative).

At the same time, the proportion of boys who described reading as difficult fell from 28% to 15.9%.

There was an 11% increase in the number of boys who enjoyed reading using technology, a 25% rise in the number who read daily using ebooks and a 22% increase in those who read for an hour or longer.

In general, there was also a drop in the percentage of schoolchildren who said they could not find things to read that interested them (down from 31.3% to 19.7%).

Irene Picton, research manager at the National Literacy Trust, said the study showed the impact of ebooks on reading enjoyment "goes well beyond the novelty" of reading in a new format.

"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," she said.

"It is important to recognise the increased reading opportunities that technology offers pupils and how it can help children who struggle to read, for example by giving them the option of increasing the font size of the text. This study indicates that technology has most potential to engage children, particularly boys, who do not enjoy reading."