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Research by an online education company called Renaissance Learning suggests that more children are being drawn into reading for pleasure by books that have been made into films.


You can read the article here on the National Literacy Trust website.

They particularly cite the popularity of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games films, both of which have had a dramatic influence on the number of children going on to then read the books where they perhaps would not have thought of reading them before.

They looked at the reading habits of over 400,000  children across 2,000 schools in the UK.

One of the things they found was that children who are younger than the target market for the books are being drawn to read them, because they have seen the films. Children as young as six, for example, are tackling Harry Potter, which is actually suitable for children aged 8 and up.

Renaissance Learning suggests that this is actually helping to advance children’s learning.

As a children’s librarian in a primary school I do see this trend for children who have seen the film of a book to want to read the book in question.  It is also certainly true that the books are often picked up by younger readers than the book is perhaps aimed at.

I do not see the correlation between their desire to tackle a more challenging book and an increase in their literacy levels however. I am not saying that it doesn’t happen. I am merely saying that I have not seen it and that, in my opinion, it often leads to problems rather than solving them.

For some children the problem is that the book is simply not suitable for a school environment. Primary aged girls who wish to read Twilight for example, can be a problem at school. What they read at home is sanctioned by their parents, but we have to be very vigilant about the material we present to our children as appropriate, and we cannot afford to offend parents by offering or condoning their child’s reading material where it might cause offence. The Hunger Games, is another example of a series we do not stock in our school library, because of the violent nature of the books. Children are allowed to bring the books from home to school, but not to source the material at school.

For other children the book is just completely beyond their comprehension.  We had a slew of Key Stage two boys who all wanted to read Lord of the Rings at one stage.  They were technically capable of reading the books, but read them incredibly slowly and with increasing disillusion, due to the fact that the books are rather different than the film. They also, when questioned about what it is they were reading so that we could judge their comprehension, were found to be unable to explain large quantities of text, and would often refer to what had happened in the film as a foundation for their explanation.  They were clearly struggling with the books, and making little to no progress in terms of fluency and comprehension, but were also unwilling to give up reading the books as it would cause them to lose face with their peers.

In the end we were able to solve the problem by simply giving them additional reading at a less advanced level that would support where they were with their literacy journey, while letting them struggle on with Lord of the Rings at their own pace.

I do think it is important to challenge children’s reading and push them if you think they are capable of being stretched.  You never know when you will find a book that just ‘clicks’ for a child, and opens the door to a whole world of books to them. I also think it is important to see where they are floundering and try and help them find a way to judge their own ability and level with accuracy so that they are able to self censor.