There hasn’t been a lot of scandal surrounding Zoella in about a week, has there? Luckily the national press has once again turned its attention to her novel Girl Online – as it’s apparently officially the “most popular novel amongst young girls in the UK”.
According to a recent poll conducted by Keith Topping, education research professor at Dundee University, Zoe’s first novel is fast becoming the favourite of secondary school pupils across the UK, and even rates highly in a list pf books read by primary school children. And according to the Daily Mail, this is apparently a reason to weep for the fate of humanity.
Their article not only heavily leans on the “ghostwriting” angle that even Zoe’s haters are tired of, but makes a point of referencing several negative reviews of the novel from the book’s Amazon page. Additionally, an unrelated quote about how children reading “unchallenging books” will damage Britain’s reputation in the long term somehow made its way in there.
However, a few things to note include the fact that the survey was apparently conducted amongst 725,000 children in the UK, across 3,300 schools. This is an impressively large number – until you realise that the population of children in the UK sits somewhere around at least 13 million. That’s a significant percentage of kids whose reading preferences haven’t been taken into account.
Additionally, Professor Topping notes that “This year’s findings reveal that, strikingly, children read their favourite books at a much higher level of difficulty and with a greater level of comprehension than those recommended to them.” Whether or not this finding accounts for Girl Online isn’t specified, but considering its popularity amongst primary school children, it’s safe to say that, whether or not the novel is considered “unchallenging”, younger children are still using it to expand their reading comprehension.
So maybe it’s not quite time to panic about the state of da youf‘s literacy preferences just yet?