Children fall under Beano spell

March 1, 1996

Humour, horror and hobbies have emerged as children's favourite reading categories in a survey by London's Roehampton Institute.

Some 9,000 children, between the ages of four and 16, were surveyed last year by the Children's Literature Research Centre.

More than 20 per cent of 16-year-old boys (10 per cent of girls) said they never, or hardly ever, read about factual subjects to help with homework. Encyclopaedias were the least popular factual reading.

Humour proved a key factor in influencing children's choice and enjoyment of books throughout the age bands with "funny books", preferably by Roald Dahl, the top choice of children aged four to seven and the Beano comic a favourite for seven to 11-year-olds.

Nearly two thirds of the children aged four to seven said that they like their books to be based on characters from television programmes, videos or films.

As children become older and enter their teens, horror takes over as the favoured genre. Magazines also proved popular with the over-11s, not least because they provide information about puberty, safe sex, drug abuse, fashion and other teenage concerns.

Hobbies, especially sport, were a winner among boys and final-year primary schoolgirls, whereas pre-teen girls liked to read about plants and animals and older girls liked biography.

Further details will be revealed at the Children's Literature Research Centre Conference, at the Digby Stuart College at the Roehampton Institute, on March 9.

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