The 2015 “What Kids Are Reading” report has revealed that Tolkien’s works are now less popular with UK children when compared with previous years’ studies. While last year Tolkien came joint 6th in the top-10 list of overall most popular authors, this year he doesn’t feature in the list at all.
But it’s not all bad news. The Hobbit is the 9th most-loved book for school children in Year 4. Meanwhile, The Return of the King is the 6th most-loved book for children in Years 9-11.
A spokesman for the report told The Guardian that the fall in Tolkien’s popularity may correlate to a decline in influence of The Lord of the Rings films (released 2001-3):
Although [Tolkien] remains popular with some students of this age, his books didn’t attract enough votes to make the overall top 20. It could be inferred that he was at his most popular when the Lord of the Rings films were all the rage – and perhaps we’ll see a Hobbit effect with current schoolchildren, but it’s too early to tell.
It may also be part of the wider trend in which children are reading shorter books and fewer words from Year 7 onwards.
Instead of Tolkien, children tend to be reading a greater variety of books, especially dystopian epics and anti-hero comedies.
We in the Tolkien Society hope to encourage the reading of Tolkien, especially in schools. If you’re a school teacher, take a look at our Teaching Tolkien resources.
Daniel is an Officer without Portfolio and Trustee of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2014, he is mainly responsible for the Society’s digital operations, including this website.