Girls and Boys - The Gender Reading Gap

Category: Reading Education

A recent international study suggests that girls are reading better than boys through age 15. According to the report, girls had higher reading scores in every one of 43 countries surveyed.

The survey, "Literacy Skills for the World of Tomorrow", was developed by UNESCO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and based on tests involving 4,500 to 10,000 students in each country.

Interestingly, the report also suggests that boys are reading less fluently because of "a lack of engagement." Statistically, 56 percent of the boys read only to get information, compared with 33 percent of the girls. However, nearly half of the girls said they read for at least thirty minutes a day, compared with less than one-third of the boys.

As expected, students living in countries with higher national incomes performed better in educational tests, including reading, math and science. At the same time, studies in Hong Kong, Latvia and Russia "outperformed" averages relative to the wealth of their countries.

The study also showed "strong relationships" between class and educational performances in countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. In addition, it demonstrated that "high average quality and equality of educational outcomes can go together," citing such countries as Canada, Finland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, South Korea and Sweden.

Also of interest was that students in rural schools in Great Britain fared better than those in the country's city schools. In addition, students in Great Britain reported high levels of support from their teachers.

THE OECD said students in Finland produced the best reading scores in the 43 countries surveyed. This was attributed to encouragement for Finnish children to read from an early age, for both pleasure and information. Among other things, children in Finland are regular readers of newspapers, and are especially motivated to read and discuss books.

Adding to the OECD study are the following international literacy statistics reported by the Literacy Trust of England:

  • 130 million of the world's children aged 6-11 are not in school.
  • 90 million of the world's children aged 6-11 not in school are girls.
  • 150 million children enter school, but drop out for lack of basic literacy skills.
  • Illiteracy affects one in four adults in the developing world.
  • The illiteracy rate in Sierra Leone and Liberia is 80%, ranking with Angola at the bottom of the United Nations' Human Development Index.
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gender reading, reading study, early age, illiteracy rate, literacy skills, reading, students, children, read, educational, literacy, development

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