With the support of former children's laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo, Egmont is lobbying the Government to incorporate “statutory storytime” into the national curriculum.
The publisher has declared a crisis in children’s reading after conducting research with Nielsen which found just 37% of six to 11-year-olds read for pleasure. Egmont’s research also found that children whose parents read to them are more likely to pick up a book for fun.
Egmont is asking the Government to incorporate storytime into the school day, in addition to teaching reading as a subject. The publisher has said a focus on taught reading causes children to view reading as “work”.
Morpugo, a former primary school teacher, has lent his support to the campaign. He said: “Storytime has been a passion of mine, ever since my teaching days.I’ve seen how it transforms children.”
Egmont and Nielsen research showed a clear correlation between children who are read to and those who choose to read for fun. A sample of 2,000 eight to 13-year-olds who are read to by their parents less than weekly, just 28% of those children choose to read daily themselves. But when they are read to by their parents every day, 74% choose to read for pleasure daily.
Only 14% of eight to 13-year-olds are read to by their parents every day according to Egmont/Nielsen research, which also discovered 22% parents of children aged eight to nine estimate their children have a daily storytime at school.
Egmont consumer insight director Alison David said: “Many parents tend to stop reading to their children around the age of eight. There’s this misapprehension that if your child can read then they’ll choose to read for pleasure which is absolutely not so. Children who read for pleasure just do better in life. They achieve more in school, they have a better sense of wellbeing, their attainment is higher. It impacts on everything.”
David has conducted extensive research on reading with both children and parents. A study of 120 children at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Stoke on Trent, showed if children are read to in school for 20 minutes a day without agenda, their reading comprehension also increases.
She added: “There’s an absolute crisis in children’s reading but there’s a very simple and very low-cost solution. It’s not going to cost a lot of money. Teachers need to read to children for 20 minutes everyday, that’s all, and their minds will be transformed. We feel so strongly that we want to lobby government to do something about it.
“It’s absolutely critical to children’s life chances, to their wellbeing, their attainment and it’s critical for publishing too, for children’s publishing and for adult publishing because the children who read today are going to be the adult readers of the future. We have to get children reading to keep our industry going.”
Ruth Smeeth, Labour MP for Stoke on Trent, supported the campaign by tabling an Early Day Motion to discuss statutory storytime in parliament. The move has also gained support from nine further Labour MPs, Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley, DUP MP Jim Shannon and SNP MP Chris Stephens who have signed support for the motion.