Teenagers’ books are too simple

Secondary school students are reading books that are too easy for them, a study suggests. By the time pupils reach their GCSE year they may be three years behind where they should be. Perhaps schools need to give harder book recommendations and challenge their pupils to really push their reading skills.

Two books by Zoe Sugg, known as Zoella on YouTube, are in the ten most popular titles for secondary school students, showing how the internet is influencing reading habits, the report notes. The study, published by the pupil assessment service Renaissance, is based on an analysis of the reading habits of almost 850,000 British children.

It found that in primary school, pupils often push themselves to read more difficult books. In general, in the final year of their primary education pupils’ ages typically match up with their reading age.

But the situation changes once they get to secondary school. Many 16-year-olds taking their GCSE exams this year are likely to have a reading age of about 13, Renaissance said.

Professor Keith Topping, of Dundee University, who carried out the research, said teachers should look closely at their pupils’ literacy levels.

The report also looked at the most-read books. It found that Roald Dahl’s The Twits was most frequently chosen at primary school, while at secondary school it was Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School.