A LACK of male role models and books at home means boys are reading less and at a lower literacy level than girls, according to a new report.
They are also being hampered by teachers who pick books that appeal more to girls and the expectation that they should be out playing instead of reading.
However, boys’ lack of achievement in reading is not down to “biological differences”, according to the study by the Boys Reading Commission. Instead, it said that there are key factors which lead to them lagging girls.
It claims that girls are more likely to be given books and taken to the library, while society’s expectations and peer pressure can put some boys off.
The report also warns that there is a danger female teachers will unconsciously choose books that are more attractive to girls.
The commission, set up by the all-party parliamentary literacy group at Westminster, investigated the reasons why boys remain behind girls in reading.
Figures show that at age seven, 7 per cent more girls than boys are reading at the level expected of the age group, the report says. By age 11, this gap has widened to 8 per cent and has increased even further by exam age, with 14 per cent more girls than boys achieving at least a C in their English exam.
At the same time, a study by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) for the commission has found boys are much less likely to enjoying reading than girls.
The report concludes that there are three factors which are associated with boys’ under-performance.
It says that the gender gap begins in the home before children start school, with some evidence suggesting that parents encourage girls to read more.
It adds children who see their parents with a book are more likely to want to read themselves.