Comfort reading for teens

cat reading 03According to The Guardian books blog, a recent report into what British children are reading at school has given some experts cause for concern because the study, which calculates the reading level of a book using software that measures the text’s complexity, says that Year 7 students in particular “are reading at over a year below their chronological age”.

According to the report’s author, Professor Keith Topping, this is a “matter for alarm”.  Author Philip Pullman, however, disagrees. “Isn’t it only the natural thing to do? You go from being a big child in a small school to a very small child in a very big school. There’s all sorts of new anxieties, new people to meet, thousands of new things to do – so isn’t it natural you turn back to the things you felt safe with when you were younger? I remember doing that myself,” said Pullman.

Children’s author Mal Peet reckons there are at least three reasons why children read below their age:

  • Reading programmes are pitched with low and they get used to easy reading
  • Teachers and librarians, worried about putting children off reading instead of turning them on to it are afraid of recommending challenging reads (oh dear)
  • Publishers go for books that are commercially viable – ie, safe.

What do you think? Read the full Guardian article, It’s not only adults who need comfort reading, and let us know.


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