Fewer children reading in spare time

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New research by the National Literacy Trust has found that fewer children across the UK are reading in their own time and one in five is embarrassed to be caught with a book.

Figures show that just over 25 per cent of children read for pleasure outside school – a decline of a quarter in seven years - which coincides with a rise in the number of children who feel embarrassed to carry books in front of their friends for fear of being ridiculed.

The survey of 35,000 children found that half of those taking part said they enjoyed reading either "very much" or "quite a lot" and a high proportion (four out of five) agreed with the statement "the more I read, the better I become".

Nearly two in five agreed reading was "cool", but about one in three said they only read when they had to.

Young people who enjoyed reading very much were four times as likely to read above the level expected for their age compared with those who did not enjoy reading at all.

Those who read outside of class every day were five times as likely to read above the expected level compared with those who never did, and children who do not think "reading is cool" were four times more likely to be below-average readers.

The study also found that the proportion who read e-books outside of school had doubled since 2010 to 12%.

National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said: "Our research not only reveals that children are reading less and developing more negative attitudes towards reading, but also that there is a clear correlation between this and their performance in reading tests."

The research also found that large numbers of parents are failing to motivate their children to read, with many “not bothered” whether sons and daughters pick up a book in their spare time

Jonathan Douglas, the Trust’s director, said: “Our research not only reveals that children are reading less and developing more negative attitudes towards reading, but also that there is a clear correlation between this and their performance in reading tests.

“As poor reading, writing and communication skills will hold children back at school and throughout life, literacy heroes and reading role models have never been more important.”

Main findings of the report:
 

  • The number of children reading in their own time fell by a quarter from 38.1 per cent in 2005 to 28.4 per cent at the end of 2012;
  • Almost a third more children are “embarrassed to be seen reading” than they were just two years ago, with numbers rising from 16.6 to 21.5 per cent;
  • Children who do not think “reading is cool” are four times more likely to be below average readers – 22.7 per cent compared with 5.8 per cent who are not embarrassed to read a book;
  • More than a quarter of children (26.6 per cent) insisted their parents did not care if they read.
School Leadership Today
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