Almost all the books in these lists are fiction – storybooks. Children like fiction, but they also like non-fiction. We know that boys in particular are interested in non-fiction. So why is it that so many fiction books are chosen?

Is it something to do with the reading preferences of school teachers and librarians, who might tend to encourage pupils to read fiction but not non-fiction? This is likely to result in higher performance by girls, who are known to favour fiction. Is this a gendered preference, so that the predominantly female primary school teachers and the half of secondary school teachers who are female prefer fiction and are unconsciously promoting fiction at the expense of non-fiction and disadvantaging boys? A contentious point.

Boys’ interest in non-fiction rises during primary and this is sustained into secondary, but it is still only 9% of all books read. Girls’ interest is less than half as much, although this gap has narrowed compared to previous years. Girls’ interest in non-fiction falls away in secondary school. In all four sets of data boys did not understand non-fiction as well as fiction, and girls understood non-fiction better than boys.

Click on the buttons below to download a list of Top 20 Non-fiction Books Read Most Often in each Year Group.