Thursday, 20 October 2011


·         One in six children will have difficulty learning to speak
·         One in six 11-year-olds have the literacy levels of a seven-year-old
·         One in six children in the UK will not have read a book in the last month
·         One in six adults is functionally illiterate, which means they have the literacy skills expected at age 11 or below.

Literacy is a right.

The statistics in the UK are shocking: 63 per cent of white working class boys, and just over half of black Caribbean boys at the age of 14 have a reading age of seven or below.

Illiteracy is a life sentence.

‘literacy skills are fundamental to informed decision-making, personal empowerment, active and passive participation in local and global social community’ (Stromquist, 2005, p. 12)

Apart from having six brothers, there are reasons why all my MG books are written for boys. I have asked an awful lot of boys ;) why they don’t read and what they would read if they found it on the shelf of their local library. You could say, I write to order.

The truth is if boys, who've had the benefit of regular attendance at school, haven’t been enthused, inspired and taught to read and write by the age of 10 – pretty much  – they never will.



  1. One thing that's lacking is enough good books that boys like. Girls will read books with male protags but boys will not read those that are at all girly. Having had 8 sons, it was tough to find enough books to interest them, but somehow we managed and now they're all wide readers of many genres.

  2. Leaving the boy thing aside, I am very worried about my daughter. Reading isn't easy for her, and even though she's getting constant help. Everything is a struggle. I hope she doesn't become a statistic.

  3. Hi Karen
    Eight sons? You must be one grade off saintly ;) Congratulations on the success of your hard work.

    Hi Angela
    I worried over my daughter - I had to make books about her and her life to really get her confident with reading. Good luck to you with the challenges reading is causing for your daughter.

  4. Boys do need good books that draw them in. But I will add that my son is tired of books on magic- the HP type books. I am afraid that stuff has been overdone. I keep looking for something with adventure for him but not another Rick Riordan or that type- you know what I mean? Maybe a pirate book, I don't know. He's a struggling reader and needs something to really draw him in and keep him going but not something that makes him feel stupid, either. But boys also need models- they need adults who read in their lives. If their parents done't read, it's tough to convince them of the value of it. And when parents spend their evening in front of the telly (or computer) yelling at kids to get their homework done, sit down and read, it's a hard sell. There's more that can be done but that's a start.

  5. Hi Danette
    You are right about the need for role models who read - posters of a pop star and a book aren't going to have the same impact as being surrounded by people who read.
    They don't care who writes the book - my bunch of ten year-olds believe everything is hype anyway.
    So many of the boys say the same thing about magic. They think slime and snot is over done and why are so many of the books manic with the fun ;) Books go from babyish to too long without a bridging length. I think 9+ books should be illustrated regularly still - well written, speedier to get through and to feel they've read successfully.
    Boys want REAL, but with added danger, friendships and someone who makes wrong choices while trying to be all heroic but someone who comes good in the end.