Reading Enjoyment, Attitudes, Behaviour, and Attainment

Last week I shared a summary of the NLT (National Literacy Trust) research report called “Mapping the interrelationships of reading enjoyment, attitudes, behaviour and attainment” and the full report is available to download here.

Part of my summary is below and has obvious links for our continued focus on Reading for Pleasure to feed into Literacy levels and attitudes.


Reading Behaviour (whether they take part in reading and/or literacy activities)

Reading Enjoyment (is reading a positive experience)

Reading Attitudes (what they think about reading)

Reading Attainment (reading ability level or how well they can read)

It is often said that there is appositive relationship between enjoyment, attitudes, behaviour and attainment, with pupils who enjoy reading or writing having more positive attitudes towards it, doing more and thereby getting better at it. This report starts to explore this hypothesis based upon research including their own.

The findings underscore the importance of developing effective methods to encourage children and young people to read for pleasure.

Evidence for a relationship between reading attainment and reading enjoyment

The evidence of a relationship between these is equivocally positive. However which comes first?

The relationship between reading attitudes and attainment

Is clear and the evidence more unanimous in that research has repeatedly found that positive reading attitudes are linked to achievement.

Those who are not good at reading often develop negative attitudes towards it. Creating a vicious circle with a widening the gap between them and their peers… These negative attitudes can often be reversed by intervention programmes that helped to improve their skills, change their view of themselves as readers, thereby motivating them to persevere and improve.

Pupils who read for fun had higher reading achievement than those reading for fun less frequently.

As reading amount increases, reading achievement increases, which, in turn, increases reading amount.

Behaviour and attainment

87% of students who said they read for fun at least once a month attained a proficient reading level. The highest scorers were children who read for pleasure every day.

Evidence shows that those identified as reluctant and disaffected readers became drawn into reading as their perceptions of their abilities as readers and self-confidence improved.

Those who read below their expected level for their age are less likely to be reading every day.

More young people who were reading below the level expected for their age agreed with statements such as reading is more for girls than boys; that reading is hard; that they cannot find things to read that interest them; and that they do not read as well as their class mates.

Research consistently shows that those who read more are better readers!



The findings underscore the importance of developing effective methods to encourage young people to read for pleasure.

Causality is no doubt complex in that enjoyment, attitudes, behaviour and attainment reinforce one another.

The paper found that the model of best fit is one where reading enjoyment is a doubly powerful source of influence, being related to attainment both directly and indirectly through its relationship with reading behaviour, which in turn, is related to reading attainment.  

Reading Behaviour is perhaps the only element that definitely cannot be removed from the cycle. You may not have positive attitudes about reading, but as long as you still do it, you will still do better than if you do not do it at all and have positive attitudes. Could attitudes and enjoyment be described as enhancers?