Reading levels hit nine year high as record numbers of children enjoy reading every day

20 Jul 2015

A record number of children enjoy reading and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children who read every day, according to new research by the charity behind the Bradford Literacy Campaign, the National Literacy Trust.

In their fifth annual survey of 32,000 children and young people aged between eight and 18, published to coincide with the start of the Hay Festival, the National Literacy Trust found enjoyment of reading and frequency of reading are both at their highest levels for nine years. This follows a series of major campaigns and initiatives which include National Literacy Trust Hubs, which have combined with the advocacy of partners in education, business, community services, cultural and faith groups and the voluntary sector to create momentum to encourage children to read more from a young age.

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.

Key findings from the research, Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2014, are:

  • Levels of reading enjoyment continue to improve. 54.4% children and young people enjoy reading either very much or quite a lot. 35.5% only enjoy reading a bit and 10% do not enjoy reading at all.

  • Levels of daily reading also continue to increase – dramatically. Between 2013 and 2014 there was a 28.6% increase in the number of children and young people who read daily outside class, rising from 32.2% in 2013 to 41.1% in 2014.
However, the gender gap is still a marked issue with research showing that there has been a sharp increase in the number of children and young people who read outside class on a daily basis in the last year, with girls edging further ahead of boys. The gap between the proportion of girls and boys who enjoy reading has also increased.

The report has also found that nearly one in four children think their parents don’t care if they read. The research shows there is still more to do to raise awareness among parents of how important their engagement is for their child’s literacy development, particularly among the most disadvantaged children. In the research, one in four (24.3%) of the children and young people surveyed agreed with the statement “my parents don’t care if I spend any time reading”. This increases sharply among pupils who receive free school meals with almost one third (31.5%) agreeing with the statement, compared to 23% of pupils who do not receive free school meals.

National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said:
“It is very encouraging to see that the number of children who read every day has radically increased. However it is a real concern that a third of the most disadvantaged children think their parents do not care whether they read. More must be done to help parents realise what a difference reading with their children from a young age can make to their future. We work in areas with the greatest need and a large focus of our National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford is raising awareness and helping parents understand their role in supporting their child’s literacy.”

“The research shows a clear need to focus on improving boys’ literacy levels through innovative projects like the National Literacy Trust’s Premier League Reading Stars programme which is now running in Bradford and has a dramatic impact on literacy skills and employability.”

Access the full report Children’s and young people’s reading in 2014.