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Literacy news

Children’s enjoyment of reading has increased for the first time in eight years

2 Jul 2014

New National Literacy Trust research reveals that children and young people’s reading enjoyment has reached its highest level for eight years.

Results from the National Literacy Trust’s 2013 annual literacy survey of 30,000 8 to16-year-olds published today show that:

  • 53.3% of young people enjoy reading either “very much” or “quite a lot”; this surpasses the highest level of reading enjoyment the charity recorded eight years ago in 2005 which was 51.4%
  • Only 10% of children and young people in 2013 say they don’t enjoy reading at all, which is the lowest level recorded in four years (12.2% in 2010)
  • More young people in 2013 read outside class daily than in 2012 (32.2% vs 28.4%)
  • Nearly a third of young people read outside class every day (32.2%), with another 28.3% reading a few times a week. However, a fifth of young people (20.2%) say that they rarely or never read outside class.

Coinciding with this research, the National Literacy Trust is launching ‘Books about Town’  today, a public art trail which celebrates the enjoyment of reading and highlights how important it is for improving literacy in the UK. Young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly four times as likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all.

Books about Town, launched by the National Literacy Trust in collaboration with Wild in Art, brings 50 unique BookBench sculptures to London, designed by local artists and famous names from Ralph Steadman to Axel Scheffler. Visitors to London will be able to discover and enjoy the Books about Town literary trails in Greenwich, City of London, Riverside and Bloomsbury from this weekend until mid-September. After the exhibition, the BookBenches will be auctioned to raise valuable funds for the National Literacy Trust to tackle low literacy levels in deprived communities across the UK.

The campaign showcases the UK’s wealth and diversity of books and celebrates reading for enjoyment, at a time when children’s attitudes to reading are growing more positive. Today’s findings also show that:

  • More young people in 2013 agree that reading is cool than in the previous four years. In 2010 only 31.9% agreed with the statement “reading is cool”, compared with 39% in 2013 .
  • Fewer children in 2013 than in 2012 say they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them (19.4% vs 21.5%).
  • However, 4 children in 10 said they didn’t have a favourite book, and almost a third of children (31.6%) say they struggle to find things to read that interest them.
  • While more girls than boys still say that they enjoy reading very much (29.1% vs. 20.1%), the gender gap in reading enjoyment is slowly decreasing (down 2 percentage points on last year).
  • The proportion of children and young people who read eBooks continues to rise, increasing from 11.9% in 2012 to 14.3% in 2013.

To support schools with the new curriculum’s focus on reading for pleasure, from September the National Literacy Trust has also launched a London-wide creative literacy project: Books about Town for schools, funded by the London Schools Excellence Fund. The project combines CPD training for Key Stage 2 and 3 teachers on teaching whole texts with the opportunity for each school to bring reading to life for pupils. The texts depicted on the book-shaped benches can be studied in classrooms across London, and pupils can  then design and decorate their own mini BookBench for their school.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust says:

The findings from our research that reveal children enjoyed reading more in 2013 are indeed encouraging, and we look forward to monitoring this trend and investigating the reasons behind it. Reading books opens up a whole new world for children – it is fun and is shown to support their education enabling them to reach their full potential.Poor reading, writing and communication skills will hold children back at school and throughout life; reading for enjoyment has never been more important.

We are delighted to be bringing Books about Town to London this summer for the public to enjoy and to celebrate the wealth and diversity of some of the UK’s best-loved books. Visit to join us in celebrating reading for enjoyment this summer and to find out where you can sit on your favourite book!

Tags: Children, Libraries, Schools & teaching

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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.