One in three children don’t own a book?!

By | December 5, 2011

As I was driving in to work today, I heard a shocking statistic on the radio news.  Apparently 4 million children in the UK do not own a single book.  That’s one in three – how terrible is that?  It’s not as if we live in a third world country – even if money is tight, you can pick books up in charity shops for as little as 10p.

C owns hundreds of books.  I started buying books for her before she was born and reading, whether it’s someone reading to her, or her ‘reading’ to herself, is one of her favourite things to do.  She has a whole bookshelf in the living room full of books so she’s able to pick one out when she feels like it.  She even asked to go to bed at 6pm on Saturday night as it was an excuse to have a bedtime story.

I really don’t understand how parents can keep books from their children.  Even if you ignore the fact that children who own books and are read to are more likely to do well at school, reading is a lovely thing to do.  I love snuggling up with C, either in bed or on the sofa and sharing a book with her.  Yes, sometimes she wants me to read to her when I’m busy and I’d rather not, but generally her books only take 5 minutes or so to read so it’s not a big deal really.

I regularly buy books as gifts for children, half the time I wonder why I bother as we have friends who don’t think as highly of reading and books as we do, but hearing today’s news makes me even more determined to keep buying them.  Reading is a wonderful skill and so much more worthwhile than sitting watching television or playing a video game.

Today’s news really is very sad.

Update: This post was written on Monday following the report I heard on the radio.  I have since looked into the statistics and it may not be as bad as first reported as the report is based on just 100 schools (18,000 pupils) and mainly on children aged between 11 and 14.

I do, however, know families who don’t buy their children books and my post means just as much to me whether it’s about 4 million children not owning a book or just one.  No child should miss out.



Crystal Jigsaw on December 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm.

Wow. I have to say I find this very hard to believe, or perhaps it’s just because I simply don’t want to believe it. The media have a very good way of hyping things up and making us think the worst. But if parents are seriously not engaging in reading with their children, what on earth do they think is going to happen to them in the future? And it also begs the question – when their child fails in English and other subjects and is classed as behind, who will get the blame? I suspect the parents will blame the teachers, but we know who the real culprits are.

CJ x
Crystal Jigsaw recently posted..The End of a Magical Era

Susan Mann on December 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm.

I read about this too and have blogged about it. Very sad. I just can’t imagine living in a world without books. x
Susan Mann recently posted..Review – Hexbug Nano – We Love Hexbugs

dlysen on December 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm.

I remember when I was 7 years old. We don’t have book on our own and the book we lend from the library is not enough for us students.
dlysen recently posted..Live in the present

Sally on December 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm.

It’s a nice statistic and makes a fun headline but it’s not strictly true, or not the way it’s been presented by lazy journalists – the research is based on kids aged 11-14 in 100 schools across the UK, and while the study found they don’t own books, their literacy skills are up to scratch or above the expected level in 80% of cases.

Emma in Bromley on December 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm.

That is a shocking stat, particularly for the UK – with things such as bookstart and as you pointed out, 10p books in charity shops – there really isn’t any excuse!
I love reading with both my children, and like you, I started reading to them when I was pregnant! This stat makes me wonder if there has been a stat of illiteracy to reflect!
Emma in Bromley recently posted..Born to boogie silent disco for under 10’s in Bromley

Addey on December 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm.

In the US I have heard several similar statistics. And like with the UK, we’re not exactly a 3rd world country! My son has almost as many books as I do at this point. (Of course, a lot of that is because I had to cull my vast collection when we moved… not enough room, sadly.)

Until a few years ago I ALWAYS gave books to kids as a present. Sure, I may add a related toy, but there was always a book in their gift.

And yes, some of the best times of the day are the times I spend curled up with Boo and a book or three. (Our rule is I’ll read you as many books as you want, just not the same one twice in a row.)
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