June 30, 2016

Why give the gift of reading?

With more distractions and diversions than ever before, it is more difficult than ever to foster a love of reading among children. But it is a love that is worth protecting. The 2015 annual survey of the Reading Agency found that young people who enjoy reading are three times as likely to read above the level expected for their age as young people who do not enjoy reading at all (32.7% vs. 10.1%).

Enjoyment of reading is a seed that has to be planted

This impressive figure demonstrates the correlation between reading for pleasure and future academic achievement. There is also a link between the amount of time children spend reading and their reading attainment. A recent OECD study has identified recreational reading as a bigger indicator of children’s educational success than social class. But enjoyment of reading is a seed that has to be planted.

Research by Mckenna, Ellsworth, and Kear found that children who did not enjoy reading when they were younger were unlikely to change their attitude as they got older. Starting children young is key to developing reading as a passion. The 2010 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report found that parents’ engagement had a very positive impact on children’s reading ability. Setting aside time to read with your child is key.

Of the children that had received the gift of a book, 54.3% read above the expected level.

Children also learn a joy of reading through emulation, so are more likely to develop a love of reading if they grow up in a house where books are in plentiful supply and more than just home furnishing. A 2014 study by the American Academy of Paediatrics found that reading to a child from birth is crucial to their academic success and recommended reading every day as a means to promote language and cognitive development.

Having access to books is integral for a child’s language and literacy development. A survey by the Literacy Trust in 2011 found that 19% of young people claimed never to have read a book. The study identified a clear relationship between receiving books as presents and reading ability. Of children that had never been given a book as a present, 37.9% read above the expected level for their age.

Of those that had received the gift of a book, 54.3% read above the expected level. Likewise the relationship between book ownership and literacy attainment is very strong. The Literacy Trust survey found that 55% of children that own books read above the expected level for their age. The same report asked children to estimate the quantity of books in their home. For children whose homes had books numbering into the hundreds, 68 % read above the expected level for their age. For children who reported having no books at home, 25% read above the expected level for their age while 37% read below it.

Having access to books and receiving books as gifts are therefore highly influential in driving a love of reading. Read in the next blog how a personalised book can drive and contribute to discovering a love of reading.