Children who enjoy reading and writing have significantly better mental wellbeing than their peers

25 Sep 2018
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Children and young people who are the most engaged with reading and writing in their free time have significantly better mental wellbeing than their peers who are the least engaged, according to a new report we have published today.

What’s more, the Mental wellbeing, reading and writing report found that children who are the most engaged with reading and writing (i.e. those who enjoy it, do it daily and have positive attitudes towards it) are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than children who don’t.

The report, based on a survey of 49,047 UK school children aged 8 to 18, also found that:

  • Children who are the most engaged with reading and writing are much happier with their lives than children who are the least engaged
  • As children transition from primary to secondary school, their levels of literacy engagement and mental wellbeing both decline and continue on this downward path
  • Boys who are the most engaged with reading and writing have higher levels of mental wellbeing than girls who are engaged

We also explored the link between reading skills and mental wellbeing, finding that children with above expected reading skills are three times more likely to have high levels of mental wellbeing than their peers with below expected reading skills.

“Children and young people today face a multitude of pressures at school, at home and in their social lives. It is imperative that we do everything we can to enable our children to develop the resilience they need to cope with life’s challenges – and our latest research shows that the joys of reading and writing can be hugely beneficial. Not only does a love of reading and writing enable children to flourish at school, but we now also know it can play a vital role in supporting children to lead happy and healthy lives.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust

We have worked with children’s mental health charity, Place2Be, to develop a series of free wellbeing-inspired teaching resources for primary and secondary schools, including book lists and assembly plans. Special assemblies will be taking place in schools in National Literacy Trust Hubs in Nottingham and Swindon throughout the week.

We have also created a series of top tips and activity ideas to help parents use reading and writing to support their child’s mental wellbeing.