CHILDREN in Scotland’s reading skills are improving and they are enjoying reading more during the pandemic.
The study by Renaissance Learning analysed the reading habits of more than 1.1 million pupils across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including 46,722 Scottish youngsters.
It showed reading skills improved over lockdown periods, with many children picking up longer books of greater difficulty.
A National Literacy Trust survey of 4,141 pupils across the UK has also found that three in five children said reading made them feel better during lockdown.
32% also said reading helped them when they felt sad because they could not see friends or family.
Professor Topping, from the University of Dundee’s School of Education and Social Work, said, “During the lockdown overall, pupils were tending to read longer books of greater difficulty and with greater comprehension.
“Having more time to read gave children the chance to immerse themselves in literature and schools should encourage more reading time now that they are open again.
“It is great to see that primary age children are reading more difficult books and this should be reflected at secondary school age where book difficulty this year plateaued.
“Secondary schools need to encourage their pupils to attack more difficult books.”
The number of books read overall dropped by 17% compared to the previous year, but during school closures reading levels increased.
When they read, children were inclined to pick up more challenging books for their age.
Primary school children, in particular, improved on their reading levels by reading more demanding texts.
At Scottish primary level, pupils were reading a larger variety of titles compared to their English counterparts.
Book reading difficulty in Year 2 was at its highest for Scottish children, who were reading books almost two years ahead of their chronological age.
Pamela’s book, ‘My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat’, was voted 9th in the Favourite Books within Primary Schools During First Lockdown category.
Pamela said, “It is wonderful to see that so many children have been choosing to read for pleasure during the lockdown period.
“And I’m delighted to discover that ‘My Head Teacher is A Vampire Rat’ has been a favourite!
“It is vital that as lockdown eases we continue to foster a culture of reading for pleasure among children by supporting public libraries and providing a library in every school so that all children can access books equally and for free.”
The National Literacy Trust’s Annual Literacy Survey found that reading for pleasure dipped at the beginning of 2020, and recorded its lowest level of self-reported reading enjoyment since 2005.
However, the first lockdown also signalled a marked change in this downward trend.
During school closures, many more pupils began to enjoy reading again with 56% of young people saying they enjoyed reading either very much or quite a lot.
This past year also saw more children discover new authors.
According to National Literacy Trust data, 46% of pupils said they had read new books, while one in seven said they had turned to a book they had read before.
Renaissance Director John Moore said, “Lockdown has been difficult for many children, especially when schools were closed and they could not access school libraries or see their friends.
“Knowing that reading really helped younger children to feel better throughout the pandemic is very encouraging.
“It’s promising to see that when pupils had a choice of books to hand many chose a more challenging book, and one that perhaps allows for more escapism.”