*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on EurekAlert!.
What children choose to read outside school directly influences their academic performance, according to a major new study led by the University of Malaga and UCL, and published in the peer-reviewed journal Oxford Review of Education.
Using longitudinal census data to look at more than 43,000 students, aged 10 to 11 and then again when they were 13 to 14, the research provides substantial evidence that pupils who enjoy reading high-quality books daily score higher in tests.
The average marks of pupils who read books rose by 0.22 points overall, which is the equivalent of 3 months’ worth of additional secondary school academic growth.
The study demonstrated no similar advantage for children’s reading daily newspapers, comics or magazines, and only marginal benefits from short stories.
The findings have important implications for parents, teachers, and policymakers, and the international research team is recommending that young people devote their reading time solely to books.
“Although three months’ worth of progress may sound comparatively small to some people, it equates to more than 10% of the three academic secondary school years measured – from when these young people are aged 11 years old to 14, which we know is a hugely developmental period,” explains co-author Professor John Jerrim, from the UCL.
The results showed the more frequently children read books, the better they performed in school tests as teenagers. The same effect was not observed with comics, newspapers, and magazines. Specifically, researchers found:
- 13 to 14-year-olds who read books every or almost every day scored 0.22 standard deviations higher (the equivalent of three months) on the literacy test than those who read books almost never.
- There is evidence of positive spill-overs into other subjects, with a difference of around 0.20 standard deviations in mathematics.
- There was some benefit from short stories for children who enjoyed them at least once a month. The researchers concluded though that increasing the frequency of this to weekly or daily was unlikely to bring any further benefits.