The Reads and the Read Nots - Implications for Dundee?

25 August 2011

Councillor Laurie Bidwell

The National Literacy Trust has published a study about the reading habits of children and young people in the UK.
 (download the study)

Their research of 18,141 children revealed a polarised nation of young readers with 1 in 6 reporting that they don’t read a single book in a month, while 1 in 10 say they read more than 10 books in a month.

This divide between the “reads” and the “read-nots” is concerning because the research shows reading frequency has a direct link to attainment, as 8 in 10 children who read over 10 books a month are above average readers compared with just 3 in 10 of those who rarely read.

Fresh approaches are urgently needed to encourage young people to read more.

However, the number of children who never read a book suggest our schools and libraries have a challenge on their hands.

The research also found that:

77% of children who read for longer than an hour at a time are above average readers, while just 4% who read for over an hour are below the level expected of them.

Only 30% of children who read for up to 10 minutes at a time are above average readers, with 20% below the reading expected level for their age.

Text messages are the most popular thing for children to read outside of class with 60% saying they read texts outside of class.

Children who read text messages but not fiction books are twice as likely to be below average readers compared to those who also read fiction (10% versus 5%).

National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas, said,

"Our new research shows that 1 in 6 children don't read a book in a month, and we are worried that they will grow up to be the 1 in 6 adults who struggle with literacy to the extent that they read to the level expected of an eleven-year-old, or below."

I have written to Michael Wood, Director of Education for Dundee City Council , to ask him to put this report on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council's Education Review Group.

I think there are some important issues for us to examine in relation to promoting reading amongst children and young people in our city.

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