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A switch on to reading;Research Notes

Surveys, studies and reports examined by Reva Klein.

Children who have a range of interests and activities outside of school are better readers than their more single-tracked or inactive counterparts, soon-to-be published research shows.

The National Foundation for Educational Research surveyed more than 5,000 eight-year-olds and found that those for whom variety is the spice of life, in the form of activities such as playing with friends, watching television and videos, sports and reading, achieve higher scores on standardised reading tests. It even turned out that occasional telly-watchers did better than those who said they never sit in front of the box - a finding that will disappoint the anti-television lobby.

The findings point to the variation of activity more than the activity itself. Those children who said they read books "most days" failed to score significantly higher than those who read "some days".

The reasons why this is so should be the focus of future studies, say researchers Greg Brooks, Ian Schagen and Peggy Nastat.

What is clear is that with one-fifth of those surveyed reporting that they didn't read outside of school because they didn't like to, work needs to be done to shift attitudes, the younger the better.

For further details, call the NFER on 01753 574123.

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