We announce our Christmas fundraising appeal to give the gift of reading this season

16 Nov 2021
Joshua age 5 Welwyn Garden City.jpg

New figures published today reveal that 1 in 11 disadvantaged children and young people in the UK don’t have a single book of their own. We are concerned that hundreds of thousands of 8-to 18-year-olds could be missing out on the benefits of book ownership hindering their academic, social and economic prospects and are calling on the public to give the gift of reading this Christmas.

Our latest research also shows children from the lowest income homes, who have the most to benefit from support for reading engagement, are most likely to miss out on the advantages of book ownership. 1 in 11 pupils eligible for free school meals don't have a book of their own at home, compared with 1 in 20 of their more financially advantaged peers. In addition, children who have their own books are three times more likely to say that they read every day and that they enjoy reading.

In our latest report Children and young people’s book ownership in 2021, our latest findings also show that reading for pleasure outside of school can boost the chances of children achieving five good GCSEs, in turn increasing their lifetime earnings by an average of £57,500. The lack of book ownership prevents many children from accessing the lifelong academic and economic benefits of reading for pleasure.

“No child should be denied the chance to own a book. This new research shows that at least 400,000 children may not have the privilege of owning their own book, and missing out on a host of associated benefits, with children who have their own books significantly more likely to say that they enjoy reading and read every day. Children and young people who enjoy reading and who read frequently are better readers, helping them to realise their fullest potential at school and in life.”

Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust,

In the last two years, we have given out half a million books to children from disadvantaged communities. Book ownership in 2021 remains the same from the previous year with 94% of children and young people aged between 8 and 18 saying they have a book of their own at home in 2021.

“Evaluation of our book gifting programmes indicates that giving children from areas of disadvantage the opportunity to access to new, high quality books of their choice that they can keep forever means they read more, and enjoy reading more, in their free time. “For children from less financially secure homes, a book of their own (and particularly one that matches their interests and reading ability), may be a powerful way to increase reading enjoyment, frequency and learning. So reading for pleasure needs to be seen as an important tool to overcoming social inequity and not something that’s just for financially better off families.”

Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust

“Children have much to gain, even beyond literacy, from owning a book. When we read a book, we put ourselves in the story in front of us. Owning a book allows children to develop empathy as we experience the lives of other characters and in turn use this in the real world. The power of owning a book cannot be underestimated as it can build confidence and enhance a child’s desire to learn. You can feel the excitement in the room, when I’m standing in front of a class with the newest book from the children’s favourite author (still wrapped up) in my hands. The second I reveal it, the children’s faces light up as they feel the magic between their fingers and are transported to a whole new world. Working in an area of deprivation, at school may be the only time the children are likely to enjoy this experience. Thanks to the National Literacy Trust for the books they’ve provided to our school.”

We want to change this and are calling on the public to give the gift of reading this Christmas by either donating to us or purchasing one of our special Christmas card designs.

Following the national Christmas card design competition which saw hundreds of entries, the winning 12 Christmas card designs were by children across each of our Hub areas. These cards are now available to buy at £7 a pack. The overall winning design, judged by author and illustrator Nadia Shireen, was by Joshua Grover, aged 5, from Welwyn Garden City.