The 2012 Commission on Boys Reading is a joint venture set up by the All-Party Parliamentary Literacy Group and the National Literacy Trust to explore and raise awareness of the problems associated with boys and reading.
The first evidence session took place on May 15 in the format of a Select Committee hearing, chaired by Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, at which Commission Members had the opportunity to put key questions to expert witnesses. The Reading Agency, along with organisations including OFSTED, UKLA, NFER, Dyslexia Action, Every Child a Chance Trust, teachers and the authors Michael Rosen and Anthony Horowitz was invited to attend. Sue Jones, spoke on our behalf of the key role libraries have in getting boys engaged in reading for pleasure.
Using the power of the Summer Reading Challenge as an example she was able to show that although the NLT research found that 38.7% of boys are library users against 49.2% of girls, 43% of SRC participants in 2011 were boys. Boys participation in the Summer Reading Challenge is steady and reflects the importance, discussed at the hearing, of offering boys material which interests them and engaging them in conversations around their reading habits, which we also find in our Chatterbooks children's reading groups.
Young male Summer Reading Challenge volunteers who become role models for younger boys are also having an impact on the gender divide. The Commission will be making a series of recommendations later this year.