The under-achievement of boys in literacy in the UK is reflected across the world, according to an international study.
Girls are better at reading in most countries
Girls out-performed boys in reading at the age of 15 in all 43 countries included in a respected study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Unesco.
But boys were in front on maths, leading the field in most countries.
When it comes to science, there is little evidence of a gender gap.
In the UK and in about half of the countries surveyed, boys do better than girls in science, but the picture is reversed in the other countries.
In almost all of the countries, girls had higher expectations of their job prospects and were more likely to see themselves as white-collar workers.
Details of the survey were first released in 2001, when it was based on data from 28 countries.
The latest report includes statistics from another 15 countries.
Topping the table for maths and science among 15 year olds are Hong-Kong, Japan and South Korea.
Students in Hong Kong are also doing very well in reading, coming just behind the top-performers - Finland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.
The UK scores above average in all three areas - reading, maths and science - as do Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Sweden and Hong Kong.
The UK ranks ninth out of the 43 countries for reading.
This is despite the fact that pupils in the UK spend less time reading than in most other countries in the world.
Only 3.5% of girls in the UK survey said they read for two hours a day or more and only 2.5% of boys said the same.
The study suggested British children read for pleasure more often than those in other countries.
They often choose magazines, newspapers, the internet or e-mails over books.
The biggest readers were the Macedonians, where 17.9% of girls and 11.9% of boys read for more than two hours a day.