GLOSSY non-fiction books are allowing boys who have reading difficulties to feign proficiency by talking about the pictures, researchers at Southampton University's centre for language in education have warned. Non-fiction failed to improve poor readers' skills because they ignored the text and talked about the illustrations. Boys who were slow readers tended to choose non-fiction because it looked like adult text and helped maintain their self-esteem among peers. Fiction with larger type was unpopular because it marked them out from their classmates as poor readers, an analysis of seven to nine-year-olds' reading habits found. To obtain the report telephone 01703 592433.