Reading

reading teachers reading pupils RON.jpg

Our research into reading explores reading enjoyment, reading habits and reading motivation. It highlights how these have changed over time and how they are impacted by sociodemographic background, access to books and the home environment. Our Annual Literacy Survey has been tracking changes in enjoyment, attitudes to and behaviours in reading since 2005 and is the biggest study of its kind in the world.

We also explore book ownership, library provision and other issues around access to reading. Find out more.

Key statistics in reading

  • 1 in 2 (51.5%) children and young people said in 2021 that they enjoyed reading. Find out more.
  • 3 in 10 (30.1%) children and young people said in 2021 that they read something daily in their free time. Find out more.
  • 2 in 5 (44.6%) children and young people agreed in 2021 that reading made them feel better. Find out more.

Reading and COVID-19

During the first spring lockdown, children and young people's enjoyment of reading increased from 47.8% pre-lockdown to 55.9% post-lockdown, having reached a 15-year low before lockdown. However, data from 2021 shows that these gains weren't sustained, with reading enjoyment levels dropping between the spring lockdown in 2020 and early 2021. This was true particularly for boys and those who receive free school meals. Find out more.

Latest research on reading

Read more reports about reading

What else we know about reading

  • Not reading at the expected level puts children at an increased risk of experiencing unemployment and poor health as adults. Find out more.
  • Technology can provide a route into reading for traditionally reluctant less engaged readers. Find out more.
  • Strong reading skills have been shown to improve children’s academic attainment across a range of subjects, including English, maths and science. Find out more.
Picking a book at the library

Our work on reading

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