Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

By Hook or by Crook, Let's Awaken a Love of Books

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

By Hook or by Crook, Let's Awaken a Love of Books

Article excerpt

Most junior pupils do not read daily outside school, study finds

The majority of eight- to 11-year-olds do not read every day outside school, large-scale research into children's reading habits reveals. Just 40 per cent read daily and 12.5 per cent rarely or never read outside class, according to a survey of almost 11,000 children run by the National Literacy Trust.

The analysis also finds a continuing socio-economic divide. Forty per cent of UK children who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) say that their parents do not care if they spend time reading, compared with 25 per cent of their peers. Seven per cent of the FSM pupils surveyed have no children's books in their home and are less likely to have been given a book as a present, or to have visited a library or bookshop.

The research was commissioned for the Read On Get On campaign, launched this week. This coalition of educationalists and charities, spearheaded by Save the Children, aims to ensure that all pupils leave primary school able to read well by 2025.

According to the campaign, "reading well" means being able to read, understand and discuss books such as the Harry Potter novels and Treasure Island, and is equivalent to national curriculum level 4b. In 2013, 40 per cent of FSM pupils did not reach this level, compared with 22 per cent of their classmates.

The research (bit.ly/ReadingLives) finds that daily reading is strongly linked to literacy skills, with children who read daily outside class five times more likely to perform above the expected level for their age in reading than their peers.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said the research highlighted the vital role parents and carers played in reading with children, even for short periods. "They don't need to find big chunks of time," he said. "Parents, carers, grandparents and anyone with a child in their life can make a huge difference by reading for just 10 minutes a day."

At Surrey Square Primary School in South London, where 56 per cent of pupils have been eligible for FSM over the past six years, deputy headteacher Katie Hanley said that schools needed to remove the barriers faced by parents in supporting their children to read.

She spoke of one parent who lacked confidence in her own reading ability, but was trained in how to read with her son. …

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