3.8m children without books

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Almost four million children in the UK do not own a book, according to a new report.

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The research by the National Literacy Trust reveals that 3.8 million children in the UK, or one child in three, does not have a book of their own.

The charity’s report , based on the book ownership of more than 18,000 children aged from eight- to- 17-years-old, raises concerns that the number of children who do not own a book is rising, after the same study six years ago found that one in ten children did not have access to a book at home.

According to the report, children from disadvantaged homes eligible for free school meals were more likely not to have their own books, as were boys.

The National Literacy Trust say the findings are of particular concern as the report shows that the number of books in the home is directly linked to children’s reading levels.

Of those children who report not having any books at home, 37 per cent read below or at the level expected for their age.

In contrast, for those children with more than 500 books in the home, only 10 per cent read below the level expected for their age and 68 per cent are above the level expected for their age.

Jonathon Douglas, National Literacy Trust director, said, ‘With one in six children in the UK struggling with literacy it is very worrying that many children could be missing out on opportunities to develop these essential skills. Booklovers will remember enjoying bedtime stories or that ‘can’t-put-the-book-down’ feeling as children.’

The report, ‘The Gift of Giving’, marks the launch of the NLT’s Christmas Gift of Reading Fundraising appeal, which asks for donations for books for disadvantaged children.

Children’s illustrators have designed cards in support of the campaign, including Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo books. http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/christmas

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