RISING numbers of children enjoy reading and are increasingly likely to read outside the classroom, according to research.

More than half of youngsters in the UK (53.3 per cent) now say they enjoy reading "very much" or "quite a lot" - the highest level recorded by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) in eight years.

The charity's annual ­reading survey for 2013, which questioned 30,000 children aged eight to 16, also reveals a drop in the proportion who say they do not enjoy reading. Overall, one in 10 admitted they did not enjoy the activity, the lowest level since 2010.

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The figures also show that almost one-third (32.2 per cent) of children and young people said they read outside class on a daily basis, up from 28.4 per cent in 2012.

However, about one-fifth (20.2 per cent) of those polled said they rarely or never read outside class, while just more than one in four (28.5 per cent) admitted "I only read when I have to".

The study looked at gender differences and found girls still tend to be keener readers, with 29.1 per cent saying that they enjoy the activity a lot, compared to 20.1 per cent of boys.

NLT director Jonathan Douglas said: "The findings from our research that reveal children enjoyed reading more in 2013 are indeed encouraging, and we look forward to monitoring this trend and investigating the reasons behind it.

"Reading books opens up a whole new world for children - it is fun and is shown to support their education, enabling them to reach their full potential."

The report was published to mark the launch of the trust's Books about Town campaign, a public art trail aimed at celebrating the enjoyment of reading.