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Kids Have Been Reading Longer, More Difficult Books in Lockdown, and It’s Boosting Moods


Literacy skills have actually improved during the pandemic, with children reportedly picking up more challenging books and getting lost in fiction to combat isolation, a UK study showed.

With schools often closed, many more students began to enjoy reading again, and 56 percent of young people said they enjoyed reading a lot (24 percent) or quite a bit (32 percent).

During the first British running of the bulls, One of us is lying by Karen M McManus and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban JK Rowling’s books were ranked as favorite books by middle school and elementary school students, respectively.

A major study by learning and assessment provider Renaissance Learning looked at the reading habits of more than 1.1 million students in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including 46,722 young Scots.

The study showed that reading skills have improved during periods of confinement, and many children pick up longer and more difficult books.

The National Literacy Trust’s annual literacy survey of 4,141 pupils across the UK found that reading for pleasure declined in early 2020 and recorded its lowest level of self-reported reading enjoyment since 2005 (48% of children).

But this changed dramatically with three out of five children saying that reading made them feel better during confinement.

More than a third also said reading helped them when they felt sad because they couldn’t see their friends or family.

Elementary school children, in particular, improved their reading levels by focusing on more challenging texts.

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At the Scottish elementary level and particularly in the second year (the equivalent of first grade), students read a greater variety of titles compared to their English counterparts.

The difficulty in reading books in the second year was greatest for Scottish children, who read books almost two years before their chronological age.

Professor Topping, from the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Dundee, said: “During the general confinement, students tended to read longer, more difficult and comprehensible books.

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Renaissance Learning Director John Moore said: “Lockdown has been difficult for many children, especially when schools were closed and they couldn’t access school libraries or see their friends.

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“Knowing that reading really helped younger children feel better during the pandemic is very encouraging.

“It is promising to see that when students had a choice of books to turn in, many chose a more challenging book, and one that perhaps allows for more escapism.”

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