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World Book Day highlights children avoid reading for pleasure

The annual event has revealed more than a third of children cannot choose what they want to read and one in five feel judged for what they like reading.

Today marks World Book Day, an annual event that promotes reading for pleasure among children. Across the globe children will have been sent to nursery and primary school dressed as their favourite story character.

assorted-title of books piled in the shelves

However, according to new findings it has become apparent that children have been put off reading for pleasure.

‘Children have told us that they think that reading choices are judged by the adults around them,’ said Cassie Chadderton, CEO of World Book Day. ‘It discourages them, it puts them off reading for pleasure and by choice’.

The research, which was comprised of a survey of 1,000 seven to 14-year-olds, highlighted that parents’ hobbies may be tampering with their child’s desire to read. Findings display that only 25% of children said their parents relax by reading at home, while 56% said their parent scroll on their phones and 52% watch TV.

One 11-year-old who took part in the study, which was conducted by consultancy Beano Brain, said: ‘Adults usually tell you to read, but then they go on their phones. My teachers and my dad do that!’

In addition, more than a quarter of respondents said that they would take up reading more if it was made more fun (30%) and if there was less nagging from adults to do it (28%).

Alice Read, a teacher based in Hampton, said: ‘I have had a child in the classroom who had the book they wanted me to see they were reading and, underneath that, the book they wanted to read.

‘They’re hiding them away. It’s important to see that it’s a valuable book, it might be on that’s giving them comfort, their easy read, or has characters they relate to. It’s important as practitioners in the classroom that we’re not voicing our opinion about whether it’s a book you ‘should’ be reading.’

In response to these upsetting findings, the World Book Day campaign, otherwise known as ‘Read Your Way’, is set to work with 20 libraries in areas of high deprivation to encourage reading for pleasure.

Isobel Hunter, CEO of Libraries Connected, said: ‘I was hearing about the work of Newham libraries yesterday where 44% of the children in that borough are in poverty. [There are] millions of children whose families can’t afford to buy books at home, so having access to the library, and the library being able to focus on additional support for those families, is really important.’

However, libraries across England are currently under threat. The establishments are being threatened with closure or budget cuts as councils face severe financial struggles as a result of the climbing cost-of-living. Last week, a Local Government Association found that 48% of councils said that they would have to make cuts to their library services. Councils plan to make these savings by reducing hours of operation and staff numbers.

Hunter added, ‘We’re at a point where libraries can really, really help’ children who are suffering from ‘pressing social problems’ that have been caused by the cost-of-living and the pandemic, but ‘it’s also at a point which, unfortunately, they’re going to be starved of funds.’

Image: Iñaki del Olmo

More on this topic:

New books launched to help children receiving social care

Vulnerable families to receive books during lockdown

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