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One in 20 British children have never read a book

NewsPrimary Education
By Heather McLean | 25 April 2017
Size0.00 KB
Create DateApril 25, 2017
Last UpdatedApril 19, 2017

Research undertaken by Ebookadabra in partnership with Censuswide has revealed that a staggering one in 20 British parents with children aged between three and seven report that their child has never read a picture book.

This data is more alarming still when viewed by region which reveals Brighton and Norwich as literacy black spots: Brighton (13%); Norwich (12.9%) (Britain’s UNESCO City of Literature); Birmingham (9.3%); Belfast (8%); Leeds (6.5%); Glasgow (6.3%); Manchester (6.3%); Southampton (5.9%); Liverpool (5.6%); and Bristol (5.1%).

Of those families that do consume picture books, the survey of over 1,000 parents reveals that the majority rely on books provided either by their school (63%) or given to their children as gifts from others (51%).  Of those respondents that did buy books for their children almost half (49%) said they bought them at the supermarket.

By some estimates there are more than 450,000 children’s picture books available in the English language. Despite this, children are exposed only to a handful of titles as family book selection is either passive (ie, from school or received as gifts) or bought them at a supermarket where choice is limited. As a result, children are missing out on a mass of diverse book content.

The Ebookadabra commissioned survey tested this directly by asking parents unprompted to name two picture books that their children had read. The results are startling.  Julia Donaldson titles feature three times in the top 10 with The Gruffalo a clear leader scoring almost two and a half times as much as the next most popular book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The top 10 titles for this age group with author and year of publication were: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, 1999 (250); The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 1969 (108); Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, 2001 (70); Peppa Pig by Lauren Holowaty, 2009 (54); We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, 1989 (51); Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Wilbert Awdry, 1945 (42); Mr. Men or Little Miss by Roger Hargreaves, 1971 (33); Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, 2008 (30); That’s Not My… by Fiona Watt, 2000 (29); and The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, 1957 (26).

When aggregated by author and publisher, Julia Donaldson tops the list again by a factor of almost four to one when compared to second place being Disney Publishing: Julia Donaldson (412); Disney (109); Eric Carle (108); Lauren Holowaty (54); Michael Rosen (51); Rev. Wilbert Awdry (42); Dr. Seuss (38); Roald Dahl (36); Fiona Watt (31); Eric Hill (26).

These findings suggest that a handful of established titles dominate children’s reading.  Of the top 10 books, the most recent was published nine years ago, seven were published over 30 years ago, and all of them are represented by major publishers.

Commenting on the findings, Ebookadabra co-founder Tom Grayson said: “Getting kids to read is about putting the right content in front of them. Kids are missing out on thousands of incredible new stories because the big industry players are focused on pushing hit content. Most parents don’t have the time to hunt out more diverse books. That’s why we created Ebookadabra to put a world of amazing picture books in every kid’s pocket.”

The research was carried out to establish reading habits and attitudes in young families by Ebookadabra, the ‘Netflix’ of children’s books.


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