Primary school pupils read tougher books during lockdown due to boredom 


Primary school pupils read tougher books during lockdown due to boredom

  • Primary school pupils chose to read more challenging books during lockdown 
  • The findings come as part of the annual What Kids Are Reading report
  • Some secondary school pupils were reading books of the same difficulty as upper primary pupils

Primary school pupils read more challenging books during lockdown – because they were bored.

When the reading habits of more than 1.1million pupils across the UK and Ireland were analysed for the annual What Kids Are Reading report, it found reading levels increased during school closures.

During the first lockdown, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by JK Rowling was primary pupils’ favourite book.

Report author Professor Keith Topping, of the University of Dundee, said: ‘During the lockdown overall, pupils were tending to read longer books of greater difficulty and with greater comprehension. 

Primary school pupils read more challenging books during lockdown – because they were bored (stock image)

‘Having more time gave children the chance to immerse themselves in literature.

‘It is great to see that primary age children are reading more difficult books and this should be reflected at secondary school age where book difficulty this year plateaued.

‘Secondary schools need to encourage their pupils to attack more difficult books.’

But the study also found the number of books read overall fell by 17 per cent compared with the same period a year before.

And many secondary school pupils were still reading books of the same difficulty as upper primary pupils in the pandemic year. 

The report says: ‘There was a marked difference in Year 7 – the difficulty of favoured books was at chronological age, and in ensuing years the difficulty of books declined sharply.

‘This is the same picture as last year. It seems that transfer to secondary school has a striking effect even on highly motivated readers.’

From 2020 to 2021, there was little change in children’s favourite authors overall as Jeff Kinney, David Walliams and Roald Dahl remained popular, but Rowling reappeared in this year’s list.

And many secondary school pupils were still reading books of the same difficulty as upper primary pupils in the pandemic year (stock image)

And many secondary school pupils were still reading books of the same difficulty as upper primary pupils in the pandemic year (stock image)

John Moore, director of Renaissance UK, said: ‘Knowing that reading really helped younger children to feel better throughout the pandemic is very encouraging.

‘It’s promising to see that, when pupils had a choice of books to hand, many chose a more challenging book, and one that perhaps allows for more escapism.’

He added: ‘This report highlights how important it is that everyone has access to books and what schools need to do to re-engage children with reading for enjoyment while giving them space and time to read more.’

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