More than 380,000 children in the UK do not have a single book of their own, according to new research from the National Literary Trust (NLT).
The findings are based on the NLT’s survey of 56,906 children and young people aged 9–18, which also showed vital benefits associated with book ownership: children who own books are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age (22% vs 3.6%) and nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading (56.2% vs 18.4%).
The survey found 383,775 children in the UK do not have a single book of their own and that disadvantaged children are still more likely than their peers not to own a book (9.3% vs 6%). However, this gap has halved in the past six years (from 6.1 percentage points in 2013 to 3.3 percentage points in 2019), according to the NLT’s analysis.
The NLT also published its Ultimate Christmas Book List – an advent calendar of children’s books chosen by 24 authors and illustrators who have each recommended a book that they personally love and wish a child could unwrap this Christmas.
Among authors taking part were Cressida Cowell, who recommended The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúl (Orion Children's Books), Lauren Child, who recommended Would You Rather... by John Burningham (Red Fox), Anthony Horowitz, who recommended Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun by Hergé (Egmont), and Katherine Rundell, who recommended Crossfire by Malorie Blackman (Penguin).
NLT chief executive Jonathan Douglas is encouraging the public to donate to the charity to help disadvantaged children (to do so, text 'GIFTOFREADING 7' to 70490 to donate £7, costing £7 + a standard message rate).
“Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing," he said. "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. 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. By donating to the National Literacy Trust this Christmas, you can help us give a disadvantaged child their very first book.”