More men giving up on reading

Man reading in a libraryA new survey has suggested that there is a gender divide when it comes to reading, with nearly two thirds of men admitting that they don’t read as much as they think they should.

In the study commissioned by The Reading Agency to mark World Book Night next week, 75% of male respondents said they prefer to watch a film or television adaptation of a book rather than reading it and almost half saying that they read fewer books now than they did in the past. What’s more, 30% of men questioned admitted that they hadn’t picked up a book to read since they were at school.

It seems that the reading gender gap starts early, as many teenage boys are less likely to read regularly for pleasure as opposed to girls – figures from The National Literacy Trust show that 35% of girls aged 8-16 read outside of school every day compared to 26% of boys the same age, despite the fact that reading for pleasure is found to have a significant effect on young people’s performance in school, cognitive and emotional development. Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman is leading the way in getting boys back into books and reading for pleasure: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27061158

At The Reader Organisation, we believe that great literature is a vital life tool to be enjoyed by everyone. Our shared reading groups around the UK engage many men in stories and poems on a weekly basis, and the relaxed, non-pressured environment of the groups mean that those who haven’t read a book in years can revisit literature, immersing themselves gradually over time.

One such example of a formerly reluctant male reader who has discovered the joy of books through shared reading is Colin, one of our Readers in Liverpool. A dad in his mid 40’s, Colin had never read a book from beginning to end before joining his shared reading group. Initially coming to take a break from the stresses and strains of family life, he was pleasantly surprised to discover more:

‘It’s good. I’ve never read like that before – I mean I’ve read aloud but I’ve never paid much attention to what I’ve been reading – you know thinking about the meaning of it and that. But this is good and we’ve got all that from this little story!’

068In our shared reading sessions in schools and one-to-ones with looked after children, we’re also encouraging a love of reading amongst boys, focusing on reading for pleasure with books that capture their imaginations: http://www.thereader.org.uk/what-we-do-and-why/education-young-people

At Better with a Book, The Reader Organisation’s National Conference, we’ll be exploring the impacts of shared reading on individuals and communities. We’ll be hearing from some of our male group members who will share their experiences of the impact reading literature has had on their lives, and also examining why reading for pleasure should have such significant effects on young people both in and out of school with speakers including Baroness Estelle Morris and Dr Alice Sullivan of the Institute for Education.

Another of our guest speakers is a passionate advocate of reading. Writer, author and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg will discuss his life as a reader at Better with a Book. Beforehand, he will appear at Poems That Make Grown Men Cry at the National Theatre on Tuesday 29th April, reading from a new anthology published in partnership with Amnesty International about poems that haunt and move a host of eminent men – sure to inspire more men to find literature that appeals to them and start reading more regularly.

Better with a Book takes place on Thursday 15th May at The British Library Conference Centre. Discover more about the relationship between literature, mental health, emotional development and enhanced quality of life. Full day delegate places cost £140 (including, VAT, lunch and refreshments) – book your place online or find out more about paying by cheque or invoice on our website.

For more information about Better with a Book or to make queries, please contact Abigail: abigailleader@thereader.org.uk or call 0151 207 7221.

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