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What parents and teachers are getting wrong about childhood reading preferences.

Jonny Diamond

July 8, 2021, 11:06am

A new study reveals that boys (contrary to popular opinion) like fiction just about as much as girls. It turns out that long-held biases about reading tastes, that hold to negative stereotypes along both gender and class lines, don’t quite match up with recent studies on the reading habits of children.

According to a recent survey of Australians aged seven and eight, from across all walks of life, fiction is absolutely the more popular choice than nonfiction. (For those of you who don’t spend much time with children, this might seem obvious—of course kids prefer stories to… history?—but here I must remind you of the eight-year-old’s brain and its obsessive relationship to random facts.)

Why is this important? It provides a pretty clear contraindication to longstanding biases about reading tastes which, over time, have led teachers to encourage individual reading habits based on gender (e.g. “Here, Billy, you might like this book about trucks.”). And why does that matter? It also turns out that fiction-reading in children is definitively “better,” insofar as it unequivocally leads to better reading outcomes over time. This study also revealed (shocker) that teachers make far too many assumptions about learning ability and reading inclinations based on perceived class, which is horrible and wrong and just fucking sucks. Don’t do that.

In short, give all the kids cool stories to read.

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