There is clear evidence that shows the impact that reading can have on vocabulary, emotional intelligence and exam success. A study completed by the OECD revealed that reading for pleasure had a demonstrable effect on social mobility and was, in fact, the most important indicator for the future success of the young person (Douglas, 2013).
The challenge we faced is that reading printed material simply is perceived as uncool by many, in particular, boys (Topping, 2018) and can also be perceived as an activity that is ‘forced’ upon students by their teachers. The percentage of students who read a book or a magazine every day declined from 60% in the late 1970s to 16% by 2016. The rapid adoption of digital media since the 2000s has displaced the consumption of legacy media.
Clearly, digital media use has increased considerably, with the average student in 2016 spending more than twice as much time online as in 2006, and with time online, texting, and on social media totalling around 6 hours a day. In addition, only half of students visited social media sites almost every day in 2008, compared with 82% who did by 2016 (Twenge et al, 2018).
However, there is clear evidence that reading has a positive impact on students’ emotional/social well-being, exam success and future careers. This means it is an issue that needs addressing.