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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 02:34 GMT 03:34 UK
Scheme aims to get boys reading
Book shelf
The government wants to encourage boys to read more
Secondary schools in England are being given free books for their library, in an attempt to get teenage boys reading.

Schools will be able to select 20 books from a Department for Education and Skills list drawn up by librarians.

The collection includes classic novels such as Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and factual books like Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.

There are also spy and adventure books, as part of efforts to close the "reading gap" between boys and girls.

These include Nightrise by Anthony Horowitz, a supernatural thriller and Bloodsong by Melvin Burgess, a futuristic science-fiction thriller.

This initiative will help boys re-acquire the reading habit, and try out a wider range of great books
Education Secretary Alan Johnson

Other choices are Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Philip Pullman's Northern Lights and Jeremy Clarkson's I Know You Got Soul.

The scheme - Boys into Books - is principally aimed at boys aged between 11 and 14, because research suggests boys enjoy reading at primary school but lose interest after the age of 11.

'Enriching lives'

Education Secretary Alan Johnson, said: "We know there is a clear link between reading for pleasure and academic performance - not just in English, but across the whole curriculum.

"Beyond this, of course, reading can enrich their lives by freeing their imagination, inspiring creativity and developing intellectual curiosity.

"Boys tend to read less than girls, and some lose the reading bug completely after they change schools at 11.

"This initiative will help boys re-acquire the reading habit, and try out a wider range of great books."

Mr Johnson said the list had been drawn up by librarians, who had carefully researched what books excited this age group of boys.

"It blends classic literature with modern titles and spans a full range of genres and reading levels," he said.

"So whatever a young person's particular interest or ability may be, there should be something to interest and excite them."

The project will be officially unveiled by Schools Minister Jim Knight at the School Library Association's school librarian awards in Birmingham.

Chief executive of the SLA Kathy Lemaire said: "Getting boys reading is something that occupies the minds of school librarians on a regular basis, and many of them find interesting and novel ways of doing this.

"However, fundamentally, it's the books that count. The right books need to be there when someone wants to read them."

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