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Our research shows using ebooks increases boys’ reading progress and makes them keener, more confident readers

9 Dec 2015

Today we have published our latest research report, which shows that using ebooks to read can help boys to make significant progress with their reading and get the most reluctant readers to enjoy reading more.

The Impact of ebooks on the Reading Motivation and Reading Skills of Young People: a study of schools using RM Books found that during the project, which lasted for an average of 4.2 months, boys’ reading levels increased by an average of 8.4 months, compared to 7.2 months progress made by girls. At the same time, the percentage of boys that felt reading was difficult almost halved from 28.0% to 15.9%, suggesting that confidence in their own reading ability also increased as a result of this project. Twice as many boys also thought reading was cool at the end of the project, increasing from 34.4% before to 66.5% afterwards.

The study is one of the first and largest to explore the impact of ebooks on reading attitudes, behaviour and attainment in UK schools. Forty schools took part by using RM ebooks for their own literacy projects and a total of 468 pupils were surveyed before and after participating.

The ebooks study had the greatest impact on boys who did not enjoy reading at the beginning of the project. Subsequently, the proportion of the most reluctant readers who said they enjoyed reading using technology increased from half (49.2%) to almost two thirds (64.2%).

Interestingly, the percentage who enjoyed reading on paper increased fourfold during the project from 10.0% to 40%, indicating that the project has opened up the world of reading for this group of pupils on paper as well as on screen. Boys from this group read for longer using technology too, increasing from 8.1% to 24.5%.

Our annual literacy survey from 2014 reflects the prevalence and popularity of reading on screen. The survey found that 88.6% of the 30,032 children and young people aged 8-16 asked said they read using technology. This research found that 75.2% said they enjoyed reading using technology compared to 56.7% who said they enjoyed reading on paper. The survey noted that reading ebooks tripled between 2010 and 2014 from 5.6% to 15.3%.

Our Research Manager Irene Picton said:

“The study clearly shows that the impact ebooks can have on reading enjoyment, particularly for boys, goes well beyond the novelty of a new reading format. Children 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.

“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.

“Our research found that technology can also transform children’s attitudes towards reading. Being seen reading on a tablet or smart phone is different to being seen with a book and this influences how much time pupils spend reading, not only using technology but in paper format too.”

 Read the full research report

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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.
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