How ebooks can help young people become confident and keen readers

Ebooks have a big role to play in helping young people become keener and more confident readers.

A new research report shows ebooks can help boys in particular to make significant progress with their reading and get the most reluctant readers to enjoy reading more.

The National Literacy Trust in the UK ran a study to explore the impact of ebooks on reading attitudes, involving 40 schools and 468 students over four months. It found boys’ reading levels increased by an average of 8.4 months, compared with 7.2 months’ progress made by girls.

Courtesy of the National Literacy Trust

The percentage of boys who felt reading was difficult plunged from 28% to 15.9%, suggesting that confidence in their reading ability increased. Nearly twice as many boys thought reading was cool at the end of the project, up from 34% before to 66% afterwards.

Ebooks had the greatest impact on boys who did not enjoy reading at the beginning of the project as the proportion of the most reluctant readers who said they enjoyed reading using technology rose from 49% to 64%.

The study also showed a huge boost for print reading with the percentage who enjoyed reading on paper quadrupling from a very low 10% to 40%.

National Literacy Research Trust Research Manager Irene Picton says: “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.

“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 smartphone 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.”

You can download the full report at the National Literacy Trust website.