[UK] Today, the Department for Education will unveil plans for a national reading competition for children in the last three years of primary education and the first year of secondary school.

The contest – launched in the autumn – will be designed to boost literacy standards and encourage a generation of “reluctant readers” to pick up books.

But ministers said that the move would be particularly appealing to boys who often thrive on a “bit of healthy competition”.

The announcement comes just days after Claire Tomalin, acclaimed biographer of Charles Dickens, warned that modern youngsters did not have the attention span necessary to read one of his novels.

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