25 October 2023

Research highlights the importance of multiple 'reading influencers'

The more people that children read with the better - but a third of children under 7 do not regularly read or share stories with different people

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We all know the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child". When it comes to fostering reading confidence and a love for books this has never been more true.

New research published from the UK's largest reading charity BookTrust finds that the more people in a child's life who are involved in influencing their reading, the more likely the child is to become a keen independent reader.

However, the research also found that nearly a third of children under 7 do not regularly read or share stories with different people. These children appear to be missing out on the enjoyment that these 'reading influencers' bring and the crucial role they play in shaping long-term reading habits.

'Reading influencers' include different family members as well as teachers or other trusted people in their lives - such as Chapter One online reading volunteers. These experiences have a marked impact on a child's love of reading.

Children selected by teachers to participate in the Chapter One reading programme often do not have a family member to practice reading with them, and they are also likely to be one of the 1 in 5 children who don't have any books at home.

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"Their enjoyment of reading grows almost immediately". Olga Down, a teacher at a Chapter One partner school in Middlesbrough describes how children in her class often don't get 1:1 attention at home or reading practice. Chapter One volunteers are vital to them for boosting their self-esteem and confidence as readers - just by being there for them every week to listen and take an interest in their lives and their reading.

At a time when the disadvantage gap is widening, it is essential that we support and encourage as many people as possible to read and share stories with young children so they can enjoy the life-transforming benefits of reading.

Ruthann Hughes, Director of Research and Impact, BookTrust

It all starts with literacy