Dubai: Students in the UAE read more books and improved their reading skills at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study said on Sunday.
The international annual ‘What Kids Are Reading Report’ from Renaissance Learning reveals how reading habits for children in the UAE during the pandemic saw both an improvement in their reading skills and “a marked uplift” in their reading enjoyment levels.
The study of over 24,000 pupils across the UAE demonstrates how reading skills improved during the stay-at-home period, with many children picking up longer books of greater difficulty. This came in line with the UAE’s efforts to support the pursuit of knowledge, the study said.
According to the study, the number of books read overall increased by 23 per cent compared to the previous year. When opting to read, children were inclined to pick up more challenging books for their age, choosing books that were longer and increasingly more comprehensive. Primary school students, and those up to Year 7 in particular, improved their reading levels by reading more demanding texts.
Favourite books and authors
During the first movement restrictions, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ by J.K Rowling topped the leader boards of the favourite books for secondary and primary school pupils, respectively. David Walliams and Jeff Kinney became even more popular. Rowling made “a very substantial reappearance” with more primary school pupils selecting the Harry Potter series again, while Roald Dahl sustained his popularity.
From 2020 to 2021 there was little change in favourite authors overall — Jeff Kinney, David Walliams, R.J Palacio and Roald Dahl remained popular.
Todd Brekhus, chief product officer at Renaissance, said: “At Renaissance we took steps to support teachers during the uncertainty of school closures, so it is pleasing to see this year’s report emphasise the importance and benefit of reading on academic achievement and well-being.”
Brekhus added: “This report highlights how important it is that everyone has access to books and what schools need to do to re-engage children with reading for enjoyment while giving them space and time to read more.”
The ‘What Kids Are Reading Report’ was written using Renaissance data analysed by University of Dundee academic Professor Keith Topping.
Renaissance is a provider of assessment, reading and maths solutions for primary and secondary schools.