New research from the National Literacy Trust suggests more than 400,000 children and young people do not have a single book at home, which could hinder their academic, social and economic prospects.
The charity is calling on the public to give the gift of reading this Christmas by either donating to the NLT or purchasing one of its special Christmas cards.
Following on from their national Christmas card design competition, which saw hundreds of entries, the top 12 Christmas card designs by children across the country are available to buy now, via Making a Difference.
The NLT report "Children and Young People’s Book Ownership in 2021", reveals that reading for pleasure outside school can boost the chances of children achieving five good GCSEs, in turn increasing their lifetime earnings by an average of £57,500. It said the lack of book ownership prevents many children from accessing the lifelong academic and economic benefits of reading for pleasure.
It was based on the NLT's annual literacy survey, conducted between January and March 2021. Based on the responses of 34,435 children and young people, almost 6% said they didn’t have a book of their own at home. This equates to 413,068 children and young people in the UK. More children who receive free school meals said that they didn’t have a book of their own at home compared with their peers who don’t receive them (9.2% versus 5.3%).
Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the NLT, said: “No child should be denied the chance to own a book. This new research shows that at least 400,000 children may not have the privilege of owning their own book, and are missing out on a host of associated benefits, with children who have their own books significantly more likely to say that they enjoy reading and read every day. Children and young people who enjoy reading and who read frequently are better readers, helping them to realise their fullest potential at school and in life."
In the past two years, the NLT has given out more than half a million books to children from disadvantaged communities. Book ownership in 2021 remains the same compared to the previous year with 94% of children and young people aged between eight and 18 saying they have a book of their own at home in 2021.