Children’s love of reading is at an all-time high according to a survey of more than 42,000 pupils.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the National Literacy Trust’s (NLT) Young Readers Programme – the first national initiative of its kind – the charity has published data showing that more than three quarters of primary school children (77.6%) enjoy reading, the highest ever recorded by the NLT. It also showed that 10-year-olds who enjoy books have a reading age 1.3 years higher than their peers who do not, rising to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for children aged 14.
The NLT will also publish on its website '20 Years of Children’s Choices' which celebrates the most popular books chosen over the last two decades by the children who have taken part in the project. The first year of the programme (1997) saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury) top the list. Subsequent favourites included Skellig by David Almond (Hodder Children's Books) the following year, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler (Macmillan Children's Books) in 1999 with Anthony Horowitz's Stormbreaker (Walker Books) riding high in 2000. Last year's winner was Bake Me a Story by Nadiya Hussain and illustrated by Clair Rossiter (Hodder Children's Books).
Liz Pichon’s The Brilliant World of Tom Gates (Scholastic) was chosen as the most inspirational children’s read of 2011. Pichon has supported the scheme for many years, delivering storytelling sessions in numerous primary schools.
She said: “I'm often contacted by parents who tell me how their kids were reluctant readers and how seeing them with their noses in a book – sometimes for the first time – makes them both happy. Helping children to find the books that they enjoy is so important, as reading should be a pleasure that will hopefully stay with them for life.”
Jonathan Douglas, director of the NLT, said: “We are thrilled that our research has found children’s enjoyment of reading to be at an all-time high. When children enjoy reading and have books of their own, they do better at school and later in life, so we must continue to do everything we can to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”
A recent evaluation found that, after taking part, reading enjoyment levels rose for 93% of participants and reading attainment levels rose for 92%.
In February, the NLT exposed a "literacy crisis" with 86% of constituencies (a total of 458 out of 533) contain at least one ward with literacy issues.