Boys reading just as much as girls, say South Norfolk pupils and teachers

Author Ian Whybrow visits Dickleburgh primary school.

Author Ian Whybrow visits Dickleburgh primary school.

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Pupils and teachers have rejected a claim that boys like reading less than girls after a popular children’s author revealed on a visit to three South Norfolk primary schools how he had been asked to help get young males turning the pages of a book.

Prolific writer Ian Whybrow revealed during a visit to Dickleburgh, Scole and Bressingham primaries that a publisher had asked him to write a series of books aimed specifically at boys.

The publisher told him that “apparently, boys don’t read quite as much as girls” – but to test the claim, he asked boys to put their hands up if they enjoyed reading.

At Dickleburgh, the vast majority of boys raised their arms – a response which headteacher James Richards said was “quite genuine”.

Mr Richards said of the claim that boys do not like reading as much as girls: “That’s not our experience here.

“In our school, boys read as frequently as girls and just as well. We don’t have a gender discrepancy.”

He added that the school, in Harvey Lane, Dickleburgh, promoted a “positive message about reading”.

“It is something we value enormously,” Mr Richards said.

“We spend a lot of time reading in groups and older pupils mentor the younger ones.”

Bressingham Primary School headteacher Gavin King also said there was no evidence that boys liked reading less than girls at his school - although they may read different types of books and have different interests.

“Our children are really keen readers,” Mr King said. “They all seem to read. However, boys and girls seem to read different things.

“They have different interests so we try and match the books to their interests. It seems to work.”

Mr Whybrow – who gave a talk to pupils about his writing and how he comes up with ideas for his famous characters, such as Harry in Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs – has written a 20-book series called Books for Boys.

It targets typical boyhood interests, with three of the books being about football and another about racing cars, and usually involves a character’s triumph against the odds.

One title, Rory’s Piratical Leg, tells the story how a boy called Rollo rescues a girl called Rory from her wicked uncle and aunts.

The book was inspired by the charity Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope, of which Mr Whybrow is a patron.

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