Northern Ireland news

New study finds increase in number of books read by pupils in NI over past year

The research reveals an increase in number of books read by pupils in NI over past year

THERE has been an increase in the number of books read by pupils over the past year, according to a new study.

The research shows that pupils read 11 per cent more books than the previous year, while comprehension levels remained the same as achieved in 2021.

The study of reading habits among school pupils also reveals that The Twits by Roald Dahl and Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna stand out as catching the attention of young readers in Northern Ireland.

Jeff Kinney, David Walliams and Roald Dahl top the 2022 list of most popular authors overall, while Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling re-enters the top five.

The study of more than 64,500 pupils in the north is part of the annual ‘What Kids Are Reading Report' by learning and assessment provider Renaissance Learning.

It revealed that as well as pupils reading more, the books they read matched the increased difficulty found in last year's report.

The study also reveals that pupils in secondary schools in Northern Ireland were still reading the same difficulty of books as upper primary pupils.

Pupils in primary schools also consistently showed a much higher quality of comprehension when reading (91 per cent to 95 per cent) than pupils in secondary schools (89 per cent to 92 per cent).

The 'What Kids Are Reading Report' was written using Renaissance data analysed by University of Dundee academic Professor Keith Topping.

"We see clearly from the evidence that time spent reading books is crucial to improved reading skill, an essential transferable skill for the future," said Professor Topping.

"Children with high quality comprehension of real books also perform better on tests of reading skill.

"This is excellent, but more attention to communicating favourite books between peers would increase it even further."

John Moore from Renaissance added: "The past year has continued to be challenging as pupils adjust to post-pandemic life and most return full-time to school.

"We know books and reading have provided millions of pupils with comfort and escapism and we're delighted to see this passion continuing, with pupils overall reading 11 per cent more books over the last academic year.

"At Renaissance we understand the important role reading plays not only in a child's learning, but also in their overall development and wellbeing.

"This report highlights how important it is that everyone has access to a wide range of books that ignite their own personal passions so each child gets the most out of the opportunities for development that a love of reading can embed."

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