Girls edged off the page by campaigns to boost literacy

25th April 2008 at 01:00
Girls are in danger of being overlooked by policy drives to improve reading because schools and libraries focus on schemes to get boys reading, the National Literacy Trust has said

Girls are in danger of being overlooked by policy drives to improve reading because schools and libraries focus on schemes to get boys reading, the National Literacy Trust has said.

One in eight girls answering a survey classed themselves as "non-readers"; the majority said they found it boring. A large proportion said they thought it was only for geeks who lacked friends.

However, the questionnaire of 1,600 girls aged 7 to 14 found that many who classed themselves as non-readers read magazines, blogs, networking sites and emails outside school.

This contrasted with the fiction, poetry and factual books that they were encouraged to read at school. As a result of the survey, the National Literary Trust is to beef up its Reading Angels scheme, the female equivalent of the Reading Champions project. This uses male role models to inspire boys and men to read more.

It is hoped that a gold, silver and bronze progression scheme, certificates, badges and an improved website will help the scheme to take off.

The trust is carrying out research into methods of inspiring girls to read, including the use of female role models. Celebrities used to motivate boys have included the England cricketer Monty Panesar and the Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand.

At the launch of the National Year of Reading in January, TV presenter Richard Madeley said he hoped to inspire boys by inviting on to his show stars such as the Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

The survey is published as Nelson Thornes became the latest educational publisher to launch a series of reading scheme books designed to be more like "real" books.

This forms part of a trend to "disguise" scheme books for both older and younger readers to make them more interesting, whatever their reading level. The Nelson Thornes books, called Fast Lane, have a ratio of one new word in every 16.

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