Boys take the easy reading option over girls

Girls prefer more challenging reading material than boys.  This is one conclusion drawn from a recent survey of children and young adults between five and sixteen years of age.

The survey was headed by Professor Keith Topping of Dundee University, and included 100,000 subjects throughout the U.K.

According to Professor Topping, it is not a matter of quantity, since boys seem to read as many books as girls do; rather it is the literacy level of the books preferred.  An example of this tendency is the preference of boys in the 13-to16 age group for Peter Lancett’s books in The Dark Man series, in this case specifically The Dark Never Hides.  Lancett’s Dark Man novels are simply and carefully written with focus on common words, making them accessible even to very poor readers.

In contrast, girls in the same age group preferred Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, which is “vampire romance” aimed at a much more sophisticated audience, with more complicated plots and structure.  The difference could have something to do with subject matter, i.e. simple good guy-bad guy versus more complex permutations, but this is not the only consideration.

Topping feels that better monitoring of what young people are reading is one way to approach the problem.  The report suggests that many of the subjects who are capable of reading at a level at least two years above their age (designated as ‘high achievers’) are choosing books at a lower level because it’s easier.  Therefore they are not improving reading skills at a time in their development when doing so can be crucial.

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