Which books can best help secondary schools to engage reluctant readers?

Today we are delighted to launch MBE Books’ second insight report into reading initiatives and reading for pleasure at Key Stages 3 and 4.


Our comprehensive survey of SLT, Heads of English, English teachers, literacy leads/co-ordinators and librarians finds that 55.5% of respondents are ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the reading ability of Year 7 students  in fact, only one person reported no concerns.


Most schools give 10-15 minutes to reading for pleasure in school every day – only 12 respondents say they allocate more than 20 minutes. And of 55 respondents who do not encourage reading for pleasure, 69% say this is because there is not enough time in the school day. ‘Not enough book stock’ is also a bigger issue for schools in encouraging reading for pleasure than it was 18 months ago (6% increase).


The report, which follows on from our September 2020 publication, also provides some valuable practical pointers on reading initiatives. For example, 73% of respondents undertake Tutor Time Reading every day or most days. Accelerated Reader is another frequently used programme.


Those accessing the full report can also view ‘Top 10’ lists of books for teams to try within their own settings. As a snapshot of these reading lists:


In writing this blog I was also interested to digest the findings of Scholastic’s exploration of the Key issues and trends in the teaching of reading in primary schools and the subsequent launch of their Daily Reading Lesson. This, it would seem to me, is part of the solution to the issues facing students going into secondary schools.


Our aim is to be the preferred partner to schools on their improvement journey and we will continue to offer the most popular English set texts and latest titles spanning Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, GCSE and A-Level set texts, all fitted free-of-charge with plastic jackets, saving schools time and prolonging the life of the books.


Beyond the ‘issues-led’ findings shared in this report, we also asked respondents to our survey how often they replace their Key Stage 4 GCSE set texts, whether they would prefer to purchase editions that had more space on the page for students to take notes or annotate the text, as well as who has responsibility for purchasing different types of books in their schools.


We will take the intelligence gained from these questions, and use this to develop an even more bespoke and personalised approach to what we do.


Jeremy Stallman is Managing Director at MBE Books

Download the full report