Children who have 60 or more books at home are five and a half times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who have fewer than 10 books, according to the National Literacy Trust (NLT), which today (10th December) launched its Christmas appeal.
According to the ‘Book ownership, literacy engagement and mental wellbeing’ survey of 44,097 children aged 8-18 in the UK, carried out in 2018, 23% of children who have more than 60 books at home have a better than average reading ability. The figure drops, however to 4.2% of those 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 (63 books versus 33 books) and children from disadvantaged backgrounds have 25% fewer books on average than their more affluent peers. And one in eight disadvantaged children don’t own a single book, compared to one in 11 nationally.
Some groups are more at risk of missing out than others, specifically boys and children living in the North of England.
Boys are twice as likely as girls to say they do not have a single book of their own (11.4% versus 6%) and children in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East are the most likely to say they don’t own a book.
For this year’s ‘Christmas Stories’ campaign, the NLT is asking people to donate £5 to give a disadvantaged child their own book or for businesses to buy a ‘literacy toolkit’, which includes 50 books, for a local primary school.
The organisation has also published a list of festive book list for people looking for ideas of books to buy for children for Christmas.
NLT director Jonathan Douglas said: “Books have the power to transform lives, yet far too many children from the poorest communities in the UK are missing out on the chance to reach their full potential simply because they don’t have a book of their own at home. This Christmas, we are giving books to hundreds of children and families who need them the most. But we need your help if we are to get books into the hands of the 744,647 children and young people across the UK who don’t have a single one. By donating to the National Literacy Trust this Christmas, you can set a disadvantaged child on the path to a brighter future.”