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One in five children in Britain do not have a book of their own at home, the National Literacy Trust found. The problem has increased since the start of the pandemic, with a third of parents saying their child reads less outside of the school term and just 31 percent saying it’s a key part of their child’s daily routine.
Some 21 percent of young boys do not have a book, compared to 16 percent of girls, it was said.
The report by the National Literacy Trust, in conjunction with McDonald’s, which is now the UK’s largest distributor of free children’s books, contained some alarming finds.
It was also revealed that the cost-of-living crisis is having a major impact on reading.
The study, of parents with children aged five to eight, found nine in 10 have less disposable income now and, as a result, 64 percent said the amount they have to spend on books for their child has fallen.
More than half said books are simply too expensive now.
Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Owning your own books is a crucial step in children reading more for pleasure, leading to increased literacy levels and improving a child’s life chances later on.
“Low literacy levels can hold you back at school, lock you out of the job market, affect your physical and mental health, and even your life expectancy.
“The National Literacy Trust’s research shows that getting books to children is more important than ever.”
The Trust’s figures show more children are now without a book since they started recording numbers in 2019, and that they have increased 2.3 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
TV presenter Vernon Kay has partnered with McDonald’s to help raise awareness of the importance of children’s literacy.
He said: “It’s heartbreaking to think that so many children in the UK are without books when the academic and emotional benefits of reading are so clear.
“My children are lucky to have had lots of books to inspire and engage them as they’ve grown up, but for many children across the UK that’s sadly not the case.”
McDonald’s is donating 500,000 free books over four weeks to areas across the UK that need them the most.
Michelle Graham-Clare, chief marketing officer at McDonald’s UK, said: “Our mission is to ensure all children, no matter their background, can access the joy of reading.”
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