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Is fiction best for developing reading skills?

23rd Oct 19

New research suggests that teenagers' reading skills might developed more by reading fiction than other types of reading material - including non-fiction, newspapers, magazines and comics.

The reseach by FFT Education Datalab, which published its findings earlier this year, highlights the link between reading skills and what teenagers are reading.

While there is plenty of research to show that reading more will help develop children's skills, researchers John Jerrim and Gemma Moss wanted to explore whether the kind of material children read mattered.

They drew on the the OECD's 2015 PISA study which asked 15 year olds how frequently they read different kinds of texts.

They linked what the teenagers were reading to their PISA scores and found that, while reading any type of material helped improve their score, reading fiction showed the most dramatic results.

John Jerrim wrote, "Specifically, teenagers who read fiction almost every day score around 26 points higher on the PISA reading test than those who never read such books. This difference in achievement is large - the equivalent of around 10 months of additional schooling according to the OECD."

As a result of their findings, Jerrim advises teachers and parents to "focus their efforts on encouraging young people to engage more with novels and other lengthy fictional texts that encourages deep reading for sustained periods of time."

He adds, "This is likely to be particularly important for boys from lower socio-economic backgrounds - the group we find to be reading this type of text the least, and who also have comparatively poor reading skills."

You can read more about the report here:

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