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News story

New research reveals that almost 45,000 children in the East of England don't own a single book

02 Dec 2019

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We published new research today revealing that 44,575 children in the East of England don’t have a single book of their own. These children are missing out on the vital benefits of book ownership for their reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing.

We surveyed 56,906 UK children and young people aged 9-18 and found that, compared to children who don’t have a book of the own, children who own books are:

  • Six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age (22% vs 3.6%)*
  • Nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading (56.2% vs 18.4%)
  • More than twice as likely to agree that reading is cool (42.5% vs 16.6%)

This builds on previous research which found that children who own books are also more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than their peers who don’t own books.

We want to close the gap in book ownership once and for all and are calling on the public to give the Gift of Reading this Christmas.

For those wanting to gift a book to a child in their life this Christmas, we have published its Ultimate Christmas book list – an advent calendar of children’s books chosen by 24 leading authors and illustrators who have each recommended a book that they personally love and wish a child could unwrap this Christmas. The list includes recommendations from Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, Nadiya Hussain and Dermot O’Leary.

One book a day from the list will be shared on our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) throughout advent. The book list can be found on where families can also take part in a brilliant Christmas book giveaway and access a range of free, fun and festive reading and writing activities everyone can enjoy. The book giveaway closes on 13 December.

“Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing. There are so many children in Peterborough missing out on the chance to reach their full potential because they don’t have a book of their own at home. We’re really proud to be taking steps to get books into the hands of children who need them most, but it’s really important that we keep working to close the gap for good.”

Sally Atkinson, Peterborough Reads Manager

Residents can help Peterborough Reads give the gift of reading to disadvantaged children in Peterborough this Christmas by:

  • Texting 'GIFTOFREADING 7' to 70490 to donate £7 (this costs £7 + a standard message rate)
  • Ordering Christmas cards designed by children, judged by children’s author and illustrator Nick Sharratt. The winning designs are available for the public to buy as printed cards or ecards from:
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