What Kids Are Reading 2016 report

Zoella revealed as UK children’s favourite author

Vlogger tops chart and futuristic fantasy voted most popular genre as full findings of the ‘What Kids Are Reading 2016’ report are released

 

February, 25th 2016, Released today, the biggest annual study into British children’s reading habits, What Kids Are Reading has revealed that the most popular book for secondary school children is Girl Online by vlogger Zoe Sugg aka Zoella. The report reflects the impact of social media on children’s book choices, with Zoella’s 10 million YouTube subscribers helping Girl Online to become the most popular book in the report from Renaissance Learning, which looks in detail at the reading habits of 725,369 children from 3,306 UK schools.

With the largest response to date, the eighth annual What Kids Are Reading report includes results from over 12 million comprehension quizzes on fiction and non-fiction titles taken by British school children in the last academic year.  The ‘most read’ books indicate the amount of times a book was read in school, while the favourite charts give greater insight into what children actually enjoyed reading the most. This is based on a voting mechanism within the Renaissance Learning software, where children are invited to rate books once they have read them.

There is a striking contrast between the books that children read the most and those they vote for as their favourites.  While the ‘most read’ books feature one futuristic adventure author – The Hunger Games creator Suzanne Collins - the favourite book charts are almost exclusively dominated by this genre. In addition, two of the most popular authors among UK pupils, Rick Reardon and Cassandra Clare, do not feature at all in the ‘most read’ charts.

The ‘most read’ book at primary level is time honoured classic The Twits by Roald Dahl, with the most popular being Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Launch Haul by Jeff Kinney. Children are also being encouraged to read Kinney at secondary school as the same book holds the ‘most read’ title at this level; however it is Girl Online by Zoella that takes the top spot for most popular book for secondary school children.

This year’s report shows that far from ‘dumbing down’, children choose more challenging books and read them with greater success than those books selected by their teachers.

To access the 2016 report, visit www.whatkidsarereading.co.uk

Primary level

 

Most read books

Most popular books

1

The Twits                                                    Roald Dahl

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul                    Jeff Kinney

2

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul    Jeff Kinney

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban          J.K. Rowling 

3

Fantastic Mr Fox                                       Roald Dahl

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire                     J.K. Rowling

4

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules   Jeff Kinney

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows                 J.K. Rowling

5

Boy in the Dress                                David Walliams

The Hunger Games                                           Suzanne Collins

6

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw   Jeff Kinney

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix        J.K. Rowling

7

Billionaire Boy                                   David Walliams

Girl Online: The First Novel by Zoella                       Zoe Sugg

8

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days            Jeff Kinney

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince               J.K. Rowling

9

Awful Auntie                                     David Walliams

Opal Plumstead                                             Jacqueline Wilson

10

Gangsta Granny                                David Walliams

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire                 Suzanne Collins

 

 

 

Secondary level

 

Most read books

Most popular books

1

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul    Jeff Kinney

Girl Online: The First Novel by Zoella                       Zoe Sugg

2

Diary of a Wimpy Kid                               Jeff Kinney

The Maze Runner                                              James Dashner

3

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules   Jeff Kinney

The House of Hades                                               Rick Riordan

4

Gangsta Granny                                David Walliams

The Mark of Athena                                               Rick Riordan

5

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days            Jeff Kinney

City of Heavenly Fire                                       Cassandra Clare

6

The Hunger Games                          Suzanne Collins

The Dying of the Light                                            Derek Landy

7

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory        Roald Dahl

The Blood of Olympus                                           Rick Riordan

8

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw   Jeff Kinney

City of Lost Souls                                              Cassandra Clare

9

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth   Jeff Kinney

Clockwork Angel                                               Cassandra Clare

10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck           Jeff Kinney

Inheritance                                                  Christopher Paolini

 

Key findings

  • The ‘most read’ charts, across primary and secondary, only feature works from four authors – Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, David Walliams and Suzanne Collins.
  • Although Jeff Kinney holds first position in the favourite books for primary level, he has no other books in this chart. The dominant force is J.K. Rowling, who has five books in this chart and none within the secondary level.
  • The most read authors in the primary school charts are Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney and David Walliams – in terms of position. However Dahl appears only twice, while Kinney and Walliams both appear four times.
  • With seven mentions in the top ten ‘most read’ chart, Jeff Kinney is clearly the most read author at secondary level.
  • A newcomer to the favourite chart at primary level is Jacqueline Wilson with Opal Plumstead.
  • The rankings also reveal that boys continue to prefer non-fiction and are therefore significantly under-challenged by their reading material.
  • At primary level, boys tend to focus more on one author they like, whereas girls tend to have more variety in their choices.

The report’s author, Professor Keith Topping comments: “This year’s findings reveal that, strikingly, children read their favourite books at a much higher level of difficulty and with a greater level of comprehension than those recommended to them. Clearly, this suggests a way of responding to the problem of insufficient challenge which is particularly prevalent in the secondary years. Instead of recommending books to children, teachers, librarians and parents should be finding ways to enable children to recommend books to each other.”

James Bell, Director of Professional Services of educational software company Renaissance Learning, which published the report findings said:  “What Kids are Reading serves as a true reflection of what kids really love to read, not just what we think they love to read. This year’s report highlights the evolving influence of social media on children’s reading habits; and with Girl Online already breaking the record for the highest ever first-week sales for a debut author since records began in 1998, it’s unsurprising that Zoella has hit the top spot this year.”

Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader quizzing software not only assesses which books are being read, it also tests children’s detailed comprehension of their chosen books. This year the report includes 25% more children than 2015, 34% more quizzes taken, with children reading 33% more words than last year. 
 

Renaissance Learning categorises every book using ATOS, the method by which the book’s readability is calculated.  ATOS scans every word in a book, analysing the length and difficulty of words and sentences to calculate the reading level of each book.  Using its Accelerated Reader software, children answer quizzes on each book they read, to assess how accurately they have read and understood the text.

Renaissance Learning has been established in the UK for over 15 years. It works with schools, teachers, parents and children to improve attainment in reading and maths, through the use of personalised practice to motivate students and immediate data for teachers to inform instruction and offer intervention when required. Accelerated Reader (AR) software has been adopted by over 40,000 schools worldwide, with many reporting an average of two years’ reading age growth in just one academic year. For more information visit: www.renlearn.co.uk/reading

About the ‘What Kids Are Reading’ report

‘What Kids Are Reading’ is an independent study written by Professor Keith Topping, Professor of Educational and Social Research, School of Education, University of Dundee and published by Renaissance Learning. Since the first edition, published in 2009, the report has captured information on a cumulative total of over 12 million books and 2 million students, to provide a detailed picture of what kids are actually reading and how their reading habits are changing.
 

 

About the author

Keith Topping is Professor of Educational and Social Research at Dundee University.

His published works exceed 300, with translations into 12 languages. Prior to entering Higher Education he worked for a number of Local Education Authorities and in Social Services and Health. Keith’s own main research focus is Peer Learning and other forms of non-professional tutoring (e.g. by parents, assistants or volunteers) – in core skills (e.g. reading, spelling, writing, thinking skills, science, mathematics and information technology) and across subject boundaries, in all sectors and contexts of education and lifelong learning. 

     
   
   
 
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