THE number of boys who say they like reading drops by a third between the ages of five and nine, according to new research.
A survey of children's reading habits by the Hornchurch Curriculum Centre also found that twice as many girls than boys read at home.
The questionnaires were completed by 569 pupils in Years 1 and 2, 787 pupils in Years 3 and 4, and 761 pupils in Years 5 and 6 at primaries in Lincolnshire.
In the early years of school, boys were twice as likely to read comics as girls, who preferred books. One girl in five said she would rather read than watch TV or use computers but less than one boy in 10 expressed this preference.
Between infant and junior classes the number of boys who enjoy reading drop ped from 72 per cent to 46 per cent, compared to girls' 77 per cent and 68 per cent.
The junior girls were more likely than boys to find their favourite books in schools and boys were increasingly less ikely to borrow books from the library.
In the last primary years, magazines were popular with both sexes. Boys chose sport, computers and wrestling, girls preferring pop, animals and chat.
Roald Dahl was the favorite author for both sexes.
A study by Southampton University claimed boys used magazines to impress their peers, hiding the fact that they did not understand what they were reading.
But Peter Harding, English adviser at the Hornchurch centre, said school libraries should use comics and magazines as a stepping stone. "There still seems to be a hierarchy of reading with Dickens at the top, teen magazines in the middle and comics at the bottom, with the aim of turning all children into Dickens readers.
"We have to start where children are at. Our attitude should be to encourage children to read what they want and try to move them on from that. We need to instill the fact that they are readers."