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Reading for the ages – and sexes

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 4th March 2015

tinyreadsAhead of World Book Day, some recent surveys have revealed some interesting findings on reading amongst the generations and genders.

To celebrate the day dedicated to children's reading, Sainsbury's carried out a survey amongst 2,000 people to compile a list of 50 ultimate books that make up a child's catalogue of reading. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory topped the poll, followed closely by Alice in Wonderland and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Roald Dahl proves to be a popular choice for kids and adults alike with four of his other works appearing in the list, and while contemporary titles such as the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series make appearances there's a strong nostalgic flavour to much of the list that indicates that parents are choosing to share their own favourite stories from childhood with their children, passing on a love for classic tales through to the next generation.

We especially loved the finding from the survey that nearly three quarters of parents questioned believed that bedtime reading is one of the most important ways to bond with their children.

Read the full list of the 50 books every child should read before they're 16 here

Yet even though many boys and girls read the same titles at a young age, growing older seems to set a distinction in the types of books the sexes favour. The Nielsen Bookscan Books and Consumer Survey 2015 shows that although nearly half of all books bought last year were for males, only 39% of adult fiction books were specifically targeted towards men - reinforcing the idea that men favour the factual in their reading, whether it be about politics, history or hobbies.

man readingTelegraph Men have asked whether men have fallen out of love with books in a world where thinking and feeling in-depth about emotions is still viewed as part of the female domain and instances of depression, anxiety and loneliness amongst men is on the rise. In our shared reading groups, great literature is open to everyone - male and female, young or older. The texts we read, from classics by Dickens and Eliot to contemporary short stories, create a safe space where emotional matters can be explored but the literature itself is always at the centre.

We welcome along lots of male readers to our weekly groups, some who have rediscovered reading after years. They may come to while away an hour and a half, but often find there's much more to the groups than meets the eye:

"It’s done me a lot of good. It’s all right going the pub and having a laugh with your mates but sometimes you’ve got to, y’know, enrich your soul. I don’t sleep well at the best of times but this helps me relax. It’s a lot better than taking a Prozac!" - one of our shared reading group members

Following up from the article, The Telegraph has come up with a list of 19 books that make good reading for men, including Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe.

"It has confirmed for me that I am as good as anyone else...I am becoming the man I should have been."- see how literature and shared reading can make an impact on male readers by taking a look at our Reader Stories

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