Boys are notorious for being less interested in reading than girls. Indeed, school teachers often report that encouraging boys to read – especially in their latter years of junior school – is really challenging. After all, say the boys, reading is “soooooo girlie”, whereas boys much prefer football. Social acceptance and gender stereotypes are part of the problem. Dads, in particular, encourage the soccer playing, active lifestyle of young boys. Then, at school, these youngsters do not want to appear out of the ordinary by being too interested in reading, so they all do what their Dads confirm is “boyish” by running around the playground.

However, teachers know that all the research on reading confirms one thing: people who read a lot in their younger years tend to get better results overall. There is a clear relationship between reading and exam success.

In later years, of course, boys who are motivated by results, pick up the reading habit again. But they are then at a disadvantage – they have to work really hard to catch up with those youngsters who were busy reading while they were playing footie.

So, the conundrum has always been how do you encourage young boys to read more? Undoubtedly, J K Rowling helped with the Harry Potter books. But even with these popular stories, teachers still want boys to read more. Enter the Amazon Kindle.

New research has shown that when boys use an e-reader such as the Kindle consistently over a period of two months they become much more interested in reading. Indeed, they rate reading as more enjoyable and they also feel their reading ability has improved. The teachers of the children in the study also said that the Kindle had helped pupils become more engaged with reading. The study also found an interesting reason as to why Kindles were preferred to books – a reason why many adults may also find that an e-book reader is of value.

The children liked the anonymity the Kindle provided. No-one else knew what book they were reading – or the level it was aimed at. When reading books you advertise to your classmates what reading age your material is and for many boys that can be embarrassing. That can also be a problem for adults on plane and trains – do you really want to let your fellow travellers know you are reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover or the behind-the-scenes guide to Downton Abbey?

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