Here’s a research finding that should surprise no one except anti-ebook haters. The UK’s National Literacy Trust, “dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK,” has released a study, “The Impact of Ebooks on the Reading Motivation and Reading Skills of Children and Young People,” which demonstrates that ebooks and ereading actually help improve child literacy – especially for boys. As the NLT’s headline says, “Our research shows using ebooks increases boys’ reading progress and makes them keener, more confident readers.”
The study was based on “the impact of access to an ebooks platform on pupils’reading motivation and skills over the academic year 2014-15.” And as the report finds, “the average reading progress made over the project period was 8 months. Boys made significantly greater progress over the course of the study than girls, with boys’ reading levels increasing by an average of 8.4 months compared with girls who made an average gain of 7.2 months.” Furthermore, “enjoyment of reading increased significantly over the course of project activities, particularly with respect to enjoyment of reading using technology.”
The report continues:
Reading enjoyment increased in particular for boys who started the project with the lowest levels of reading enjoyment. The percentage of this subgroup who enjoyed reading using technology increased over the course of the project from 49.2% to 64.2%. However, the percentage that enjoyed reading on paper also increased fourfold, from 10.0% at the beginning of the project to 40.0% at the end of the project.
Working with RM Books, “a market-leading ebooks platform designed specifically for schools,” the NLT based the study on “more than 70 detailed project plans” from a range of UK schools, with post-project feedback from over 800 pupils. The entire report is worth reading in detail for its methodology and statistical nuggets.
The overall conclusions, though, are very clear. E-reading “has the potential to address longstanding achievement gaps,” the study concludes. “We know that a high proportion of children and young people enjoy reading using technology, and read on devices frequently in and out of school.” Instead of complaining about the literacy gap and lagging achievement, pundits and parents should be enlisting technology to solve it.