What and How Children are Reading in the UK

I spotted this tweet from J. K. Rowling’s agents, The Blair Partnership last Friday:

The tweet was responding from an article in the Times newspaper about the latest report from Renaissance on the reading habits of school children in the UK. Perhaps a surprise to followers of social media campaigns, J. K. Rowling has increased in popularity over the last three years of recording, with the Harry Potter series holding the top three places for favourite books for primary school pupils. For some take-aways and to download the report, see after the break.

I’ve attached the report here, for statistics fans, but here are some take-aways:

  1. Reading is on the increase for all ages compared to previous years.
  2. Primary aged pupils read books of increasing difficulty as they get older. (It is interesting to spot the books in the Harry Potter series enter the favourite books charts for each year, with girls leading boys by are year or two.)
  3. Secondary School pupils reading difficulty plateaus and eventually declines.
  4. National lockdowns have increased children’s enjoyment of reading, and the return to school has revered this with an all time low in 2020.
  5. The Ickabog debuted as a favourite in years 3 to 7.

Please as I am that Rowling has maintained and increased her popularity with children, I was saddened to see that all those works that we know we can see allusions and reflections of within her work, do not feature in the charts.

I don’t think children will get everything. But I don’t think that’s a problem. My favourite books are tatty and falling to bits because I keep going back to them. If people go back to the book and find more in it that’s got to be good. It’ll be like finding another sweet in the bag.

Irish Times, 12 September 1998

I believe we should be encouraging children that are engaged with Harry Potter to read books like Harry Potter’s Bookshelf from our esteemed Headmaster or Literary Allusions in Harry Potter by Dr. Beatrice Groves. Both are accessible, and both open a world of literature that Rowling has drawn from to produce her beloved books.


  1. Wayne Stauffer says

    I use Harry Potter’s Bookshelf with my college sophomore lit class. Very readable. Not stodgy at all.

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