Education Secretary states children should read 50 books a year
22 Mar 2011
Children as young as 11 should be expected to read 50 books a year as part of a national drive to improve literacy standards, according to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.
He said pupils should complete the equivalent of about a novel a week and that the academic demands placed on English schoolchildren had been “too low for too long”.
The vast majority of teenagers read one or two books as part of their GCSEs and Mr Gove said all schools should “raise the bar” by requiring pupils to read a large number of books at the end of primary school and throughout secondary education. A report in December concluded that reading standards among British teenagers had slipped from 17th to 25th in an international league table.
Mr Gove’s latest comments were made following a tour of “charter schools” - state-funded institutions that were run free of government interference - in the United States. One primary school in a hugely deprived area of Harlem, New York, set pupils a “50-book challenge” over the course of a year and children also competed to be quickest to read all seven Harry Potter books.
Mr Gove said:
“We, the Coalition Government, have attempted to raise the bar but, I think, haven’t been ambitious enough. Recently, I asked to see what students were reading at GCSE and I discovered that something like 80 or 90 per cent were just reading one or two novels and overwhelmingly it was the case that it included Of Mice and Men. We should be saying that our children should be reading 50 books a year, not just one or two for GCSE.”
A current review of the National Curriculum was expected to specify the authors children should study at each stage of their education. As an interim measure, Mr Gove would be asking leading children’s authors to set out the 50 books each child should read, with schools urged to issue the challenge to pupils.
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