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Fiction literature improves reading skills of young people

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Posted October 20, 2018

Read. Read as much as you can as often as you can. This is how people grow and become more interesting. Reading is one of the most basic life skills all people should master. Young people are still learning to read and comprehend the text. Scientists from UCL found that those people who read fiction have significantly stronger reading skills than their peers who do not.

Newspapers, comics and non-fiction literature are important, but fiction books improve reading skills more. Image credit: Eli Francis via Wikimedia

This study included data of more than 250,000 teenagers aged 15, across 35 industrialised countries. This might not seem surprising to you, but young people actually read a lot, mostly on the internet, but also a lot of magazines, comics, non-fiction and newspapers. However, this study the benefit of reading fiction applies regardless of total time spent reading – scientists say that young people who read fiction score more highly on reading tests. Interestingly, this research also showed that newspaper readers and fiction readers actually do not overlap.

That is quite interesting. Newspapers are not exactly easy to read, so why newspaper, magazine and comics readers do not enjoy enhanced reading skills? Scientists say that it is because fiction is particularly demanding – it requires us to consume a large continuous text and comprehend it as a whole. All other pieces of non-fiction literature that young people enjoy (magazines, comics, non-fiction books and newspapers) are more or less divided into segments, which can be read and interpreted separately.

35 countries were included in this research. In them 45% of girls say that they read fiction books at least several times a month, but the same is true in only 27 % of the boys. Interestingly, the same percentage of boys say they never read any fiction, while only 12 % of girls can say that. However, 56% of boys read a newspaper several times a month compared to 49% of girls. Finally, young people from a better socioeconomic background read much more, especially fiction literature. Professor John Jerrim, lead author of the study, said: “Encouraging young people to read fiction, particularly boys from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, who are less likely to read this kind of text, may be particularly beneficial for their reading skills”.

This research shows that it is not just important to encourage children to read in general, but it is also important to pay attention to what they are reading. There should always be some fiction in their readings – not only it improves their reading skills, but it also makes them more creative and smart.

 

Source: UCL

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