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.