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Boys 'are less frequent and thorough readers than girls'

26/10/2016 Kelly

New UK research has offered evidence that male students may need more support and encouragement to get them into reading than girls.

The University of Dundee has published two academic research papers showing that boys not only read fewer books than girls, but they are also more likely to be less thorough in the way they read.

One of the new studies drew upon data from 852,295 students at 3,243 schools, while another examined quiz answers relating to the comprehension of books read by 150,220 children at 967 schools. Both highlighted broad-ranging problems with the way boys aged five and 18 years handle reading.

It was indicated that males largely take less time to process the words they are reading, skipping over sections and developing a poorer comprehension of the text, while also being less likely to select challenging material for themselves.

While boys tended to choose nonfiction more often than girls, the choice of genre had little effect on the quality of their processing of information, as girls were shown to have a better understanding of both fiction and nonfiction material.

Previous research has indicated that this discrepancy can be explained by socioeconomic status, but these large-scale studies offered no evidence that this was an influential factor.

Keith Topping, professor of educational and social research at the University of Dundee, told the Guardian that this shows the importance of providing a tailored approach to teaching.

Professor Topping said: "What you need is teachers, classroom assistants, librarians spending time with a child to talk about choices in reading; possible suggestions for more challenging books in the context of what they are interested in.

"We are not saying read hundreds of classics and that everything will be all right. They need to read challenging books in a subject in which they are interested."

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