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Children and young people’s letter writing in 2017/18

Added 30 Oct 2018

To celebrate Blue Peter turning 60, we took a closer look at children and young people's letter writing in 2017/18, exploring how many children write letters in their free time, how often children write letters, and why children decide to write, or not write, letters.

Our report is based on the responses of 42,363 pupils aged 8 to 18 who answered questions about letters in our eighth Annual Literacy Pupil Survey, which we conducted between November 2017 and January 2018. We found that:

  • Children and young people’s letter writing has risen in popularity, with 36.7% of children and young people now writing letters in their free time, compared to 28.9% in 2011
  • Children are mostly writing letters to stay in touch with family and friends (52.7%) or to make the person they are writing to happy (47.8%)
  • Children also say that writing letters makes them feel happy (33.8%) and helps them express their feelings (30.7%)
  • Despite the increasing popularity of letter writing among children and young people, 2 in 3 (63.3%) still don’t write letters in their free time. These children say they don’t write letters because they prefer to write emails or text messages (59.4%), they don’t know what to write (33.6%) or they don’t have the time (33.3%)

The benefits of letter writing were found to be far reaching. We discovered that children and young people who write letters in their free time are more likely than their peers who don’t write letters to:

  • Enjoy writing overall (65.3% vs 40.4%)
  • Write something daily (23.8% vs 13.5%)
  • Rate their writing skills as above average (47.8% vs 33.3%)
  • Enjoy reading (71.0% vs 48.5%)
  • Have high levels of literacy engagement (40.5% vs 17.6%)
  • Be happier with their lives (life satisfaction score of 7.69 out of 10 vs 7.16 out of 10)

Our report also includes new research from Blue Peter and Oxford University Press.

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