Research carried out by Booktrust has shown an increase in children saying that they enjoy reading. It also highlighted that children felt they were distracted by television and computer games, which is something that I think we all know anyway! What i found quite interesting was that around 74% of children said that they liked to chose their own books which I think is very encouraging. As much as I love to shout about and tell people about new books I love it even more when they come to me and tell what they like and are very fimr in their choices. It gives me a chance to talk to them on a different level about why they choose the books they do and then this can lead into giving them advice about other books they may enjoy.
Another slightly more worrying point was that only 5% of children would go on what their dads told them to read. Obviously there could be a number of reasons for this but from my experience it is mostly because there is a lack of male role models who read for children. We are very lucky in our school as we have three male english teachers who are all readers and encourage the kids to read as well. This though is not the same everywhere. I've worked in schools where there are no male english teachers and you can see the effect that it has. If a child grows up without knowing that its ok for boys to like, enjoy reading because they don't see the male figures in their lives doing it, it does have a detrimental effect on them.
But it is the same all over, all children need to see positive reading role models whether they are male or female. Now whether of not you believe that there is a problem with boys reading, we can't just look at one area and improve that only to find in the future that we have neglected all the other areas and now there is a problem with them. We need to make sure that we are always tuned into everyone's reading tastes and habits, providing in the book world a non-discriminative view point on age, sex, race, culture because as soon as we start catergorising things we break things down into groups and not everyone fits into a group. When we truly view reading as something for everyone and don't try to put labels on things then we will see a change in the whole rather than the spectrum. It may not sound radical to some but it does require people to think differently.