New research reveals over 33,000 children in the South West don’t own a book

29 Nov 2019
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We published new research today which revealed that 33,204 children in the South West 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.

Our survey of 56,906 UK children found that, compared to children who don’t have a book of their own, children who own books are:

  • Six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age
  • Nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading
  • More than twice as likely to agree that reading is cool

Further analysis found that, while disadvantaged children are still more likely than their peers to not own a book, this gap has halved in the past six years.

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

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. Swindon author and illustrator Steve Anthony is one of the 24 authors, recommending Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.

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 wordsforlife.org.uk where families can also take part in our Christmas book giveaway until 13 December.

We are also inviting local families with young children to Orbital Shopping Park on Monday 9 December to take part in a festive Small Talk event. Families will enjoy a series of fun, free activities that will give them the chance to share stories, sing songs and play games together – and take away a free goodie bag including a brand new book in time for Christmas!

“Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing. There are so many children in Swindon 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.”

Anish Harrison, Swindon Stories Manager

See full research here