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“A fifth of children find reading boring” – yet another statistic that highlights that children are being switched off by books.

The Daily Mail has reported on the findings of a recent poll commissioned by education publishing house, Pearson, which found that many parents resort to bribing their children to read: “The poll of more than 1,000 adults found both teachers and parents believe that increased access to technology is turning children off reading, with many youngsters bored by books.” Half of parents use sweets, the TV and the computer as incentives to get their child reading. “A third of parents admit they only allow their child to watch TV or use the computer after reading”

The poll also found amongst the 1,100 participants that:
• Six in 10 parents (59.4 per cent) and over eight in 10 teachers believe children are more likely to log on to a computer
• More than half of parents (57.2 per cent) said they were concerned that digital media is replacing reading
• 76.6 per cent believe it is more difficult for their child to spend time learning to read, with all the other distractions available, than it was when they were growing up
• A third of parents admit they only allow their child to watch TV or use the computer after reading • One in 10 parents gives their child treats such as sweets or chocolate. A further 5.9 per cent say they use other rewards
• Both parents and teachers (65.3 per cent and 84 per cent respectively) think children would read more if they could access some elements of their school reading programme on the computer
• Over 88 per cent of teachers are concerned that reading is becoming increasingly less attractive for kids growing up today.

Children were also asked their views and reading habits in the poll:

• Almost two thirds of the children said playing games on the computer, surfing the internet and watching TV were more exciting than reading
• 37.3 per cent of the children said they wished reading school books at home was more like playing a game
• More than a fifth said they found reading school books at home boring
• Many of the children wanted to see more books with TV characters in them, with Doctor Who, Ben 10 and Wallace and Gromit the characters children would most like to read about.

Says the Daily Mail: “A new school reading programme that has been launched called Bug Club uses modern methods to teach synthetic phonics and literacy. The programme uses characters to engage children about reading and is the first to combine real books with an interactive online reading world.

Pauline Woods, Headteacher of Brookfield Infant School, which piloted Bug Club, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see the children automatically recognise some of the characters and this instantly switches them on to reading and makes them want to read more – this is one of the things most schools struggle with.’” The questions seem to remain however – how do parents and teachers further encourage a lifelong love of books and should books just be replaced by more up-to-date technology?