Ebooks increase boys' reading progress, research finds

Using ebooks makes boys keener to read and can significantly increase their reading progress, according to new research from the National Literacy Trust (NLT).

The report, entitled ‘The Impact of Ebooks on the Reading Motivation and Reading Skills of Children and Young People’, found that boys enjoyed reading ebooks more than paper books, which also made them feel more confident in their reading ability.

The study was based on a survey of 468 pupils at 40 schools across the UK, who took part in an e-reading project.

Over 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. The percentage of boys who felt reading was hard decreased from 28 per cent down to 15.9 per cent, which the NTL suggests shows increased confidence in their reading ability.

The research also found that ebooks make boys more keen to read, with 66.5 per cent believing reading was ‘cool’ after the project, compared to 34.4 per cent before.

There was a 25 per cent rise in the number who read daily using ebooks and a 22 per cent increase in those who read for an hour or longer. Additionally, the number of school children who said they couldn’t find anything interesting to read dropped from 31.3 per cent to 19.7 per cent.

Irene Picton, research manager, 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.”

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