According to data published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Kingdom ranks 47th out of 65 nations in the number of teenagers who read for pleasure. This places the UK significantly behind nations such as China, Thailand and Albania. The OECD survey shows that only 60.4% of UK children read on the daily basis, compared to the nations that topped the rankings where over 90% of children report regularly reading for enjoyment.
This also means that the UK scored lower than the average 63% across all the nations covered by the study.
Research has shown that there’s a strong link between literacy and educational achievement. The Education Secretary Michael Gove used the recently published results to bolster his argument that s
students in the U.K. weren’t being sufficiently academically challenged. The sentiment was echoed by researchers from the OECD:
Andreas Schleicher, from the OECD’s education directorate, said: “Better readers not only perform well in school, they grow up to become adults who use their reading skills to make sense of the world around them and continue learning throughout their lives. But for many students around the world, that cycle appears to have broken.”
Earlier this year, Gove called schoolchildren to commit to reading one book a week in order to improve literacy nation-wide, The Telegraph reports.
The OECD data also showed that girls were 40% more likely than boys to enjoy recreational reading. Emma Drury, writing for The Guardian, challenged the group’s methodology, pointing out that the survey only printed matter into account:
“… part of the problem is that UK children, especially teenagers, are reading – but they are reading using their laptops, e-readers and mobiles – none of which were included in the survey.”
The new rankings are the latest in a series drawn from tests taken by 15-year-olds from 65 countries taken in 2009 as part of the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment.