Children who own books six times more likely to read above expected level, survey finds

Hundreds of thousands of pupils in UK do not have a single book, analysis suggests

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 02 December 2019 07:06 GMT

Children who own books are six times more likely to read above the expected level for their age – and yet hundreds of thousands of pupils are still missing out, a report suggests.

More than 380,000 children in the UK do not have a book of their own, an analysis from charity the National Literacy Trust calculates, which can affect their reading skills, enjoyment and wellbeing.

The survey, of more than 56,000 children, reveals that 22 per cent of children who own books read above the expected level, compared to just 3.6 per cent of pupils who do not have a book.

More than half (56.2 per cent) of young people who have books enjoy reading compared to less than a fifth (18.4 per cent) of those who do not, according to the survey of pupils aged nine to 18.

The findings come as hundreds of libraries across the country have been forced to close amid spending cuts.

Boris Johnson, who was challenged over the closures on The Andrew Marr Show, said he wanted to invest in libraries but could only do so when the economy is “really motoring”.

The National Literacy Trust survey shows that children who are eligible for free school meals (9.3 per cent) are more likely to not own a book than their richer peers (6 per cent).

Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing.

“Yet far too many children are missing out on the chance to reach their full potential simply because they don’t have a book of their own at home.”

Overall, 6.3 per cent of children who were surveyed said they do not have one book – which the charity has estimated amounts to 383,774 children across the UK.

Mr Douglas added: “We have taken huge strides to get books into the hands of children who need them most, but we must continue to strive to close the gap once and for all.”

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