A book is for life, give one this Christmas

New research by the National Literacy Trust shows that the more books a child owns, the more likely they are to do well at school and be happy with their lives.

These stark findings are based on a survey of 44,097 children aged 8-18 in the UK.

The National Literacy Trust found that:

  • Children who have 60 or more books at home are 5.5 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who have fewer than 10 books
  • Children who read above the level expected for their age have twice as many books as those who read below the expected level
  • Children who have a book of their own at home have higher levels of mental well-being than those who don’t have any books

However, children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are at risk of missing out on the educational and health benefits of book ownership:

  • 1 in 8 disadvantaged children in the UK don’t own a single book, compared to 1 in 11 children nationally
  • Of children who own books, those from disadvantaged backgrounds have 25% fewer books on average than their more affluent peers

The National Literacy Trust used the report to help launch its Christmas Stories fundraising campaign which hopes to give some of the UK’s most disadvantaged children their very first book this Christmas.

I’ve written many times before about the importance of reading to children, and to exposing children from an early age to literature and other forms of culture. But the launch of this report seems like a good opportunity to remind you of my key arguments…

Here, I explain what cultural capital is and how we can help disadvantaged children to build it by closing the vocabulary gap.

Here, I explain why reading is a superpower which we should pass on to young people by reading bedtime stories.

Here, I explain how to teach reading comprehension.

And here I explain the importance of reading fluency.

You can download a copy of the National Literacy Trust’s Report here.

It is depressingly ironic that this report is published in the same week as new figures show that 127 local libraries closed their doors last year and nearly 500 libraries are now run by volunteers.  Libraries play a crucial role in providing disadvantaged children with opportunities to read books.  Here, I explain why libraries give us power and how we should protect them against austerity because they are a hallmark of a civilised society.

Follow me on Twitter: @mj_bromley

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