Independent reading: the relationship of challenge, non-fiction and gender to achievement

K. J. Topping, J. Samuels, T. Paul

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    To explore whether different balances of fiction/non-fiction reading and challenge might help explain differences in reading achievement between genders, data on 45,670 pupils who independently read over 3 million books were analysed. Moderate (rather than high or low) levels of challenge were positively associated with achievement gain, but non-fiction read was generally more challenging than fiction. Non-fiction reading was negatively correlated with successful comprehension and reading achievement gain. Overall, boys appeared to read less than girls, and proportionately more non-fiction, but this less carefully—especially in the higher grades—and had lower reading achievement. Differences between classrooms in promoting successful comprehension of non-fiction were evident, suggesting intervention could improve achievement. Implications for research and practice are explored.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)505-524
    Number of pages20
    JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • Reading
    • Children
    • Fiction
    • Non-fiction


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