Poetry 'more popular with children on free school meals', finds NLT

Poetry 'more popular with children on free school meals', finds NLT

Just under half of children and young people aged 8-18 enjoy reading or creating poetry, although that figure rises to 55.7% of those who receive free school meals, according to a survey from National Literacy Trust to mark National Poetry Day.

For the report, entitled “A thing that made me happy: Children, young people and poetry in 2018”, researchers Christina Clark and Fay Lant surveyed 2,978 8-18 year-olds from 27 schools between May and july this year.

Just under half (46.1%) of those surveyed said they engaged with poetry in their free time. A quarter said they consumed it by reading, listening or watching poetry performances and 10.4% said they wrote or performed it themselves. Another 10.3% said they do both.

Children on free school meals were, however, more likely to spend their free time on poetry, as 55.7% of that demographic consumed or wrote poetry compared to 43% of those who don’t receive free school meals. More pupils on free school meals said they like poetry because it is a playful form of writing (62.5%), whilst only 56.7% of pupils who don’t get free school meals agreed.

Paper-based poetry is still the norm, with three in five young consumers saying they read poetry on paper, compared to a third who read poetry online or on a phone and the same proportion (31.7%) who watch poetry videos.

When it comes to creating poetry paper is king, too, as 74.2% of those who wrote poems used used paper, compared to writing poetry online (16.4%) or recording poetry as an audiofile or video (one in 10).

Just over half of the children surveyed (53.9%) said they don’t engage with poetry, either because it’s boring (chosen by 50% of those who say they don’t like poetry), because the topics poets write about aren’t interesting (40%), because they don’t ‘get’ poetry (21.4%) or because it is hard (12.1%).

The split between genders is even with boys and girls liking poetry equally, but there was a big change between the younger children surveyed and the older group: children between 11 and 14 are half as likely to engage with poetry than those aged 8-11, according to the report.