Reading for pleasure boosts pupils’ results in key subjects, amid growing concerns that children are shunning books in favour of online games and television.
The study by the Institute of Education reveals that children whose parents read them bedtime stories as infants perform better that those who go without, the Telegraphreports. However, reading for pleasure during secondary school has the biggest effect, boosting pupils’ vocabulary, spelling skills and maths performance.
Researchers analysed the behaviour of about 6,000 children, looking at their reading habits and comparing with this to test results at various stages. Reading was found to be more important for their cognitive development at secondary school than the influence of their parents. Also, children who read regularly at 10 and more than once a week at 16 gain higher results in maths, vocabulary and spelling at the end of secondary education.
Dr Alice Sullivan, co-author of the research, admitted that the impact on maths may not be expected: “It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help to improve children’s maths scores. But it is likely that strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.”
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