Letter writers are better writers

17 Sep 2015

Our latest research, published today to coincide with the Royal Mail’s Letter Writing Week shows that almost twice as many children and young people who write letters at least once a month write above the level expected for their age compared with those who do not write letters (23.9% compared to 13.5%).
 
In Children and Young People’s Letter Writing, a survey of 32,000 children and young people aged between eight and 18-years-old, the National Literacy Trust found that almost a quarter (23.7%) of children and young people in Yorkshire and Humberside write letters at least once a month. Nationally, the research revealed that girls are more likely to write letters, with 1 in 3 (30.2%) writing letters outside school at least once a month compared to less than a quarter (23%) of boys.
 
However, the concerning news is that children are less likely to write letters as they get older. More than a third of (35.3%) of children aged between eight and 11-years-old (Key Stage 2) write letters outside class compared with a quarter (24.5%) of children aged 11 to 14 (Key Stage 3) and just one in six (16.5%) of young people aged 14 to 16 (Key Stage 4).
 
The research also found a link between letter writing and children’s wider writing outcomes. For example, children who write letters are more likely to write daily outside class, compared to children who don’t write letters (37.1% vs. 23.2%). 
 
Children who write letters are also more likely to think positively about writing. The survey shows that nearly twice as many young people (48.9%) who write letters think writing is cool compared with 28.1% of children who don’t write letters. Children who write letters are also more likely to agree that if they are a better writer, they will get a better job when they grow up than children who do not write letters (61% compared to 51.4%).
 
National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said:
“Taking the time to sit and write a letter by hand feels much more personal than typing an email, both for the writer and the recipient. Receiving a letter, particularly one expressing gratitude, sympathy or the latest news in familiar handwriting, makes the message seem more powerful and heartfelt than receiving an email saying exactly the same words.

“It is very interesting that our research into the writing habits of children and young people found that twice as many children and young people who write letters at least once a month write above the level expected for their age compared with those who do not write letters. Young letter writers are also more likely to write and read every day outside school which improves their literacy, enabling them to do better in class and throughout their lives.”