On Christmas Day, many children will be lucky enough to discover a whole new world of adventures, meet new people and learn about the past as they unwrap the gift of a new books, waiting for them under the Christmas tree. But for hundreds of thousands of children, it will be a very different story.
Books have the power to transform lives. By sparking children’s imaginations, stimulating their critical thinking, and helping them develop empathy, books and a love of reading give children the very literacy skills they need to succeed at school, at work and in life.
But this festive season, spare a thought for the many children across the UK who don’t have a single book to call their own. The National Literacy Trust’s latest research, Book ownership and reading outcomes, puts this number at three-quarters of a million children who say they don’t have even one book of their own.
The sad reality is that having no books at home negatively effects a child’s reading attainment. In fact, our new research shows that children who don’t have books of their own are nearly four times more likely to read below the expected level for their age. What’s more, they don’t enjoy reading as much as children who have books and are also less confident readers.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, whether or not a child owns a book has a huge effect on how often they read in their free time. Our research found that one in three children who have a book of their own read every day in their free time, but this drops massively to just one in seven children who don’t have a book of their own.
The impact of children having no books of their own at home is wide reaching. These children are far less likely than book owners to think that reading is cool or exciting, and far more likely to struggle to find things to read that interest them and to say that they only read when they absolutely have to. This has a huge impact on their chances of success – not just in school but also in later life.
We found that fewer boys than girls have a book of their own at home and that teenagers are much less likely to own a book than children aged eight to 11. But it’s among underprivileged children who receive free school meals that we find the largest number of pupils who have no books. In fact, one in eight of the most disadvantaged children in the UK don’t own a single book. These children are missing out on the chance to reach their full potential for the simple reason that they don’t have books at home.
Three-quarters of a million children in the UK have never experienced the joy of opening a brand new book on Christmas Day. We want to change this and we need your help. Please donate just £5 to our Christmas Stories campaign to help us give a disadvantaged child their first ever book this Christmas. By giving a child the gift of reading this Christmas, you will be setting them on the path to a brighter future.