Peer pressure says literacy isn't 'cool'

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Following Ofsted's statement that it was a “moral imperative” for schools to improve reading and writing, new research by the Reader’s Digest has found that peer pressure, together with parents lack of interest, were significant causes of falling literacy.

The Reader's Digest survey on literacy levels interviewed both adults and children and found that just one in three (33%) children only “occasionally” read books, nearly one in five (18%) “hardly ever” read books and 5% never read a book. Nine out of ten (91%) of parents questioned were concerned about the country’s declining literacy levels and over a third (36%) blamed themselves for the worrying trend.

Results from the survey showed that:

  • Nearly half (46%) of all children say they would benefit from their parents spending more time reading and writing with them
  • 94% of parents felt that more should be done by society to encourage children to read books and write creatively in their leisure time to help improve their literacy levels
  • 51% of parents have difficulty getting their children to read and write in leisure time
  • One in ten admit they leave it up to their children to read and write stories in spare time
  • Over half of parents (53%) strongly agreeing that there’s a clear value in encouraging children to read and write more to improve grammar and spelling (28%), increases creativity and imagination (25%) and gives children more confidence in their own abilities (19%)

Gill Hudson, editor of Reader's Digest, said: "This is the first time we have seen how children look at things.  Their peer group is far more important than what their parents think.