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Child reading

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 (2023 findings)

  • Just 2 in 5 (43.4%) children and young people aged 8 to 18 said they enjoyed reading in 2023. This is the lowest level since we first asked the question in 2005.
  • Fewer than 3 in 10 (28.0%) children and young people aged 8 to 18 said that they read daily, matching levels seen in 2022.
  • Half (52.9%) of 8 to 18-year-olds told us they had been encouraged to read by their parents/carers.

Find out more.

Key statistics in book ownership (2023 findings)

  • In 2023, 1 in 12 (8.6%) children and young people aged 5 to 18 said that they did not have a book of their own at home, while over 9 in 10 (91.4%) children and young people said that they did.
  • 1 in 8 (12.4%) 8- to 18-year-olds who received free school meals (FSMs) told us that they did not have a book of their own.
    • This is double the percentage of their peers who did not receive FSMs (12.4% vs 5.8%).
    • The percentage-point (pp) gap in book ownership between children and young people who receive FSMs and their peers who do not (6.6 pp) is now at its largest in a decade.

Find out more.

Latest research on 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