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Children’s author champions charity diary writing campaign this Christmas

8 Dec 2016

 Award winning children’s author Jacqueline Wilson has joined the National Literacy Trust’s campaign to give children the gift of a diary this Christmas, as new research by the charity reveals the benefits to children of writing a diary [1].  

The National Literacy Trust’s report, Children and Young People’s Diary Writing in 2015, found that diary writing has a positive impact on children’s attainment, as well as boosting their motivation to write. The report showed that pupils who keep a diary are almost twice as likely to write above the expected level for their age compared with children who do not say they keep a diary (27.1% vs 15.5%) [2]. What’s more, writing a diary allows children to choose what they want to write about, and 82% of girls and 76% of boys say if they can choose the subject, writing is more fun [3].

The report found diary writing to be more popular with girls, and more broadly with younger children of both genders [4]. Three times as many girls as boys keep a diary (29.5% vs 10.3%), whilst twice as many pupils in their final years of primary school write in a diary compared to pupils in their last years of secondary school (29.4% of pupils aged 8-11 vs 11.9% of pupils aged 14-16).

Whilst the research also highlighted a drop in the number of children writing in a diary over the past five years from one child in four (24.5% in 2010) to one child in five (20.3% in 2015), it also found that almost half of children (46.8%) are still writing something in private in their free time [5].

The National Literacy Trust is calling on parents, families and anyone buying a gift for a child or young person this Christmas to think about the gift of a diary and encourage children to get writing.

Diaries have been a popular form of writing for centuries and are of huge historical significance. The works of Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, Virginia Woolf and Anne Frank have engaged the public and brought historical events to life in a uniquely personal way. Diaries are also popular mechanisms for creating fiction, with characters such as Meg Cabot’s Princess Mia, Anne Fine’s Killer Cat, Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid, Liz Pichon’s The Brilliant World of Tom Gates and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones being immortalised in diary form. 

Award winning author Jacqueline Wilson has blazed the trail of diary writing, including diary entries in her children’s fiction series Tracy Beaker and her own diary entries in an autobiographical account, My Secret Diary. Jacqueline Wilson is championing the charity’s campaign.

Jacqueline Wilson said:

“I still have the diaries I wrote as a teenager. I wince at times when I read them, but they bring back those long-ago days so vividly and help me remember what it's like to be young. I'm particularly fond of using a fictional diary method when I write my books. It helps make the story more immediate and easy to read. I always advise would-be writers to keep a daily diary as it gets you into a regular writing habit. It's also a brilliant way of expressing yourself and confiding special secrets. I always hope for a diary as a Christmas present and give different kinds to many friends.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said:

“Encouraging children and young people to keep a diary is a great way to get them excited about writing. Writing about the best parts of their days, their friends, and their hopes and dreams can be fun for children. Diaries are also a great way to help children build resilience as they process their thoughts and express their feelings.

“We’re encouraging parents, families and anyone buying a gift for a child or young person this Christmas to give the gift of a diary. You’ll be giving them a platform to express themselves through words and the tools to become a better writer and do well at school. And you never know – your child could produce the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid!”

Jacqueline Wilson’s Diary 2017 is available to buy now. As well as space for children to write something every day, the diary is packed with puzzles, activities and fun facts. Jacqueline Wilson’s latest book, Clover Moon, is also out now: po.st/CloverMoon.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

[1] National Literacy Trust, Children and Young People’s Diary Writing in 2015, published in December 2016. The research report is based on findings from the National Literacy Trust’s sixth Annual Literacy Survey. 32,569 children and young people, aged 8 to 18, responded to the survey in November and December 2015.

[2] National Literacy Trust, Children and Young People’s Diary Writing in 2015:

Attainment level expected for pupils’ age

Pupils who do not keep a diary

Pupils who keep a diary*

Above expected level

15.5%

27.1%

At expected level

75.1%

67.4%

Below expected level

9.4%

5.5%

* We had writing attainment data for 3,311 KS2 pupils (aged 8-11) in 2015. Of the 3,311 pupils we had attainment data for, 876 ticked the box to indicate that they write a diary at least once a month and 2,435 children did not tick this box.

[3] 76% of boys and 82% of girls agreed with the statement “writing is more fun when you can choose the topic” (National Literacy Trust, Children and Young People’s Writing in 2015).

[4] National Literacy Trust, Children and Young People’s Diary Writing in 2015:

Percentage of children and young people who write a diary at least once a month, according to age

Key Stage

All

Boys

Girls

Diary writing frequency by gender

2

29.4%

18.40%

40.90%

Girls are 2.2 times more likely than boys to write a diary at least once a month

3

18.9%

8.30%

28.30%

Girls are 3.4 times more likely than boys to write a diary at least once a month

4

11.9%

4.90%

18.30%

Girls are 3.7 times more likely than boys to write a diary at least once a month

[5] 46.8% of children and young people said they write something in their spare time that they do not share with anyone else (National Literacy Trust, Children and Young People’s Diary Writing in 2015). Of the 6,300 pupils who answered an open-ended question about what they write in their spare time that they do not share with anyone else, the majority said that this writing relates to writing in diaries, journals, stories, fanfiction, poems and song lyrics. 

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The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.