Children who own books are six times more likely to read above expected level, yet 1 in 10 disadvantaged children in Middlesbrough are missing out

Cressida Cowell, Nadiya Hussain and Dermot O’Leary among 24 authors and illustrators to recommend a book they would give to a child at Christmas – and why

New research published today by the National Literacy Trust revealed that 1 in 10 disadvantaged children in Middlesbrough (10.4%) don’t have a single book of their own [1]. Middlesbrough Reads, run by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Middlesbrough Council through the Middlesbrough Promise, warns that these children are missing out on the vital benefits of book ownership for their reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing.

The National Literacy Trust’s surveyed 56,906 UK children and young people aged 9-18 and found that, compared to children who don’t have a book of the own, children who own books are:

·         Six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age (22% vs 3.6%)*

·         Nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading (56.2% vs 18.4%)

·         More than twice as likely to agree that reading is cool (42.5% vs 16.6%)

This builds on previous research from the charity which found that children who own books are also more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than their peers who don’t own books [2].

In the past year, Middlesbrough Reads has gifted 8,210 to children and young people in the town. However, Middlesbrough Reads wants to help close the gap in book ownership once and for all and is calling on the public to give the gift of reading this Christmas.

For those wanting to gift a book to a child in their life this Christmas, the National Literacy Trust has published its Ultimate Christmas book list – an advent calendar of children’s books chosen by 24 leading authors and illustrators who have each recommended a book that they personally love and wish a child could unwrap this Christmas. The list includes recommendations from Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, Nadiya Hussain and Dermot O’Leary.

One book a day from the list will be shared on the charity’s social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) throughout advent. The book list can be found on wordsforlife.org.uk where families can also take part in the charity’s Christmas book giveaway and access a range of free, fun and festive reading and writing activities everyone can enjoy. This giveaway closes on 13 December.

Allison Potter, Middlesbrough Reads Manager, said: “Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing. There are so many children in Middlesbrough missing out on the chance to reach their full potential because they don’t have a book of their own at home. We’re really proud to be taking steps to get books into the hands of children who need them most, but it’s really important that we keep working to close the gap for good.”

Residents in Middlesbrough can help Middlesbrough Reads give the gift of reading to disadvantaged children in the town this Christmas by:

·         Texting ‘GIFTOFREADING 7’ to 70490 to donate £7 (this costs £7 + a standard message rate)

·         Ordering Christmas cards designed by children, judged by children’s author and illustrator Nick Sharratt. The winning designs are available for the public to buy as printed cards or ecards from: literacytrust.org.uk/giftofreading

For more information on the Middlesbrough Reads and ways to give the gift of reading, visit www.MiddlesbroughReads.org.uk