Too many parents failing to read to their children

A recent study by the National Literacy Trust has found that nearly nine in ten young people in the UK own a mobile phone, while only just over seven in ten have books of their own at home.

This has sparked a debate about the importance of books in the home, where the foundations of literacy are laid.

According to researchers, the presence of literature in the home has a profound effect on all families, irrespective of parental occupation or social class. This suggests that filling homes with a range of novels and reference books may make the difference between leaving school at 16 and progressing on to A-levels and University. It found that being raised in a household with a 500-book library would result in a child remaining in education for an average of three years longer than those with little access to literature. Even having as few as 20 books in the home can still have an impact.

Children are twice as likely to read outside class if they are encouraged to read by both their mother and father. Two in ten young people don’t get any encouragement to read at all from their mother and four in ten don’t from their father. The extent to which parents create a home environment that encourages reading has been found to have a significant influence on academic attainment.

Children who read above the expected level for their age are more likely to have books of their own at home; 80 per cent of high-achievers have books of their own, while only 58 per cent who read below their expected level do so.

Jonathan Douglas, National Literacy Trust director has said that:

“By ensuring children have access to reading materials in the home and by encouraging children to love reading, families can help them to do well at school and to enjoy opportunities throughout their life.

“Involvement with reading activities at home has significant positive influences not only on reading achievement, language comprehension and expressive language skills, but also on pupils interest in reading, attitudes towards reading and attentiveness in the classroom.

Read the full article here. The National Literacy Trust is determined to increase opportunities for parents to support their children’s reading.

This month they have launched the Tell Me a Story campaign to raise awareness of the importance of family literacy and to raise money to support their work with families in disadvantaged communities across the country. It is encouraging parents to read to their child for 10 minutes a day every day.

Literacy is not simply an issue for developing nations; it is the UK’s most pressing educational challenge.

The new coalition government has said that improving literacy will be a priority. This is great news and the National Literacy Trust hope that their Tell Me A Story campaign will raise awareness of the role of parents in supporting schools in addressing this challenge.

Want to improve your library at home? Need some ideas? Take a look at Cool Reads which gives suggestions for hundreds of cool reads for 10-15 year olds, reviewed by 10-15 year olds.

Also, why not take a look at the English KS3 courses offered by Oxford Home Schooling, split up into years 7, 8 and 9 with a variety of texts to read for each year.  There is also an interesting range of English and English Literature GCSE and IGCSE courses.

Parents who promote reading as a valuable and worthwhile activity at home have children who are motivated to read for pleasure, as well as giving their children the best start in life.

Sue Ray
Home Education Co-ordinator
Oxford Home Schooling
01865 798022

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