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Create laughs in the classroom to help boost boys’ reading and writing skills

23 Jun 2016

New research from the National Literacy Trust indicates comedy could play an important role in engaging children and young people, particularly boys, in reading and writing for enjoyment.

Responses from 24,972 8 to 16-year-olds show that more children and young people (33.4%) read comedy outside class at least once a month than  poems (17.4%), non-fiction (32.2%) or newspapers (25.9%).

The findings have been revealed as pupils across the country are encouraged to find the funny in literacy and take part in the BBC’s Comedy Classroom competition. In partnership with the National Literacy Trust, the competition gives pupils aged 13 to 15 the chance to have their comedy writing made and broadcast by the BBC.

The survey shows that reading and writing comedy is particularly popular with boys. Despite reading significantly less than girls overall, boys read more comedy outside the classroom every month than girls (38.4% compared to 29.1%). Boys are twice as likely as girls to put pen to paper and write comedy outside class (16.5% v 9.9%).

The National Literacy Trust’s report Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2015 shows that a gap persists between girls’ and boys’ reading habits and attitudes. Almost two thirds (61.2%) of girls enjoy reading versus half (47.8%) of boys, while half of girls (49.5%) read daily outside school compared with a third (36.0%) of boys. Previous research by the National Literacy Trust shows the gender gap is also reflected in children and young people’s writing behaviours and attitudes.

National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas believes the popularity of comedy among boys could help to close this gap:

“Our research suggests comedy could play an important role in engaging boys, who tend to read and write less than girls outside school.  While a third of pupils are already reading comedy regularly, significantly less are writing comedy outside of school. The teaching resources we have created to support the Comedy Classroom competition help teachers to introduce their pupils to comedy writing and show them just how easy and fun it can be.”

Comedy Classroom is open for entries until 24 July. Visit


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact:

Danielle Wright, Media and Communications Officer on 0207 820 6262 or at Zara Bishop, Media Manager on 020 7820 6275 or at  

For information about the Comedy Classroom competition or for interview requests, please contact the BBC Press Office:

Joanna Parkinson / Jo Clayton on 0161 335 8220 or at /

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The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.