Reading Emergency

12th February 2020


Dear Parents and Carers,

I would like to draw your attention to the following research and information regarding reading and “literary poverty” put together by the BookTrust. As you know we are becoming increasingly concerned about the issue of some of our pupils not reading very much at home and hope you will be able to spare some time to read this letter and consider the information. Of course many of you may be very proactive in this area of home learning support but it does make interesting reading for all of us.

”BookTrust research has revealed that more than a quarter of a million UK primary school children are experiencing literary poverty.

· 345,000 primary school children in the UK receive less than 15 minutes of shared reading a week

· One in seven parents or carers never read their child a bedtime story

A child in literary poverty is defined as a child who is read to or with for pleasure, for less than 15 minutes a week outside of school.

BookTrust's latest study shows that 345,000* (14%) school children aged seven to nine are currently falling into this category, with a further 17% on the border, being read to or with for less than half an hour a week. Worryingly, six per cent of children aged 7-9 fall into the worse category of literary poverty, with their parents or guardians never reading to or with them at all.

Just a third (37%) of young children in the UK are reading with or being read to by a parent or carer for over an hour a week in total. BookTrust encourages families to read together for just 10 minutes a day as this helps develop their language, curiosity, imagination and listening skills, as well as benefitting their academic development, including writing skills.

It appears that the traditional bedtime story is also suffering. One in seven parents admit that they never read to their child before bed, with a further 11% saying they only do so once a week on average.

The research shows that the importance of regular reading is not lost on parents, with nine in ten believing that reading for pleasure is important for their child. However, children aged 7 – 11 today are on average reading for

pleasure for 28 minutes less a week than their parents did at the same age. In fact, half of children aged 7 - 11 in the UK (50%) read for less than an hour a week.

In response to the worrying findings, former Waterstones Children’s Laureate Anne Fine has launched BookTrust’s annual fundraising Pyjamarama campaign to call on families to rediscover the joy of reading.(We hope to take part in this at Lifton Primary School on 5th June-details will follow nearer the time).

Former Waterstones Children’s Laureate Anne Fine comments:

“With far fewer screen distractions, my friends and I spent half our lives deep in books. Now, half our primary school children spend less than an hour a week reading for pleasure. But reading’s a vital skill. It’s the bedrock of education in all subjects, and enriches our children from both an emotional and a cultural perspective. For the parent, sharing a story with a small child is a sanity-saving, calming comfort, and reading to an older child soon becomes addictive. I’d encourage everyone to put aside the screens a little more to engage children with reading. It truly does work wonders.”

Many thanks for reading this.

Melanie Cripps