As a child, I read voraciously. I wasn’t allowed a TV in my bedroom, so I entertained myself by reading until I fell asleep – often with a torch under my duvet so my mum didn’t catch me! I read Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings – everything I could get my hands on.
Reading is just as important as ever
Recent research from the National Literacy Trust has revealed that there is a record number of children who enjoy reading and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children that read every day. This research clearly shows how important reading is to future generations, and the fact that there has been an increase in the number who enjoy reading, and the amount they read daily, flys in the face of those who label children as part of the ‘iPad generation’. Reading is just as important as ever, and the positive benefits that come from reading is clear – ‘Children and young people who read daily outside class are five times more likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who never read outside class.’
Children’s literature is a flourishing industry – from picture books, to middle grade and up to young adult – the amount of talent is extraordinary, and it’s no wonder that children are transfixed by books and reading more than ever.
However, the research also revealed that there is still a substantial gender gap in the amount of reading boys and girls do. Almost half of girls say they read outside class compared to just over a third of boys. This is a worrying trend. Reading is often characterised as a ‘feminine’ activity and this is a gross depiction that affects both girls and boys. Reading should be seen as universal and gender should not be a deciding factor in the amount of reading. There should be less talk of ‘boy’ books and ‘girl’ books from birth onwards to curtail this gender gap.
Primary schools – try our new approach CPD to close the gap between boys’ and girls’ literacy http://t.co/L4kDChL1SV
— Literacy Trust (@Literacy_Trust) June 8, 2015
The research also cited parental engagement in reading as key in encouraging child literacy. A quarter of children surveyed agreed that their ‘parents don’t care if I spend any time reading.’ My dad read to me nightly when I was little and I firmly believe this fostered my lifelong love of books. Educating parents as to the importance of reading is essential in sustaining this exciting increase in the number of children that enjoy reading.
Overall, the results of this research is overwhelmingly positive. More reading among children can only be a good thing – and it is essential that our education system builds on this trend and work to ensure that even more children read. However, there are issues that need to be addressed; education on the gender-neutral nature of books and reading to encourage boys and girls to read, and support for parents, especially those that are disadvantaged, in reading with their children. Reading is an essential component of a well-rounded education and a childhood well spent – and the benefits of reading are well documented.
What was your favourite childhood book? Let us know in the comments below!