World Book Day Research Finds That Children Are Being ‘Put Off’ Reading for Pleasure

Engage, Inform, Inspire

Earlier this month it was World Book Day, a day that celebrates, promotes, and encourages reading for pleasure. However, research carried out by World Book Day (WBD) has discovered that, despite events such as WBD and the wide variety of reading choices that are available, rather than feeling encouraged, instead children are actually being put off reading for pleasure.

There are various reasons for this. More than a third of children said that they were not able to choose their own reading material; whereas a fifth said they feel judged for what they choose to read. Another stumbling block towards reading for pleasure was the influence of adults on the children around them. When a thousand 7 – 14-year-olds were asked about their parents’ hobbies in a survey by UK consultancy, Beano Brain, just 25% of children said that their parents read to relax at home. 56% said that their parents scroll on their phones and 52% said their parents watch TV.

In terms of children’s own feelings towards reading, 28% feel that they are ‘nagged’ to read and 25% feel that they are being made to read books they don’t want to read. However, 30% of children would be more likely to read for pleasure if it was deemed to be more fun.

It seems that as a result of this research, the two main barriers to reading for pleasure are choice for the child, i.e. not allowing them to choose their reading material, and also children not seeing the adults around them reading for pleasure.  

With regards to giving children choice, it’s so important for children to have ownership over what they want to read. This is where libraries are a great resource as children can access the books in there for free and there’s always such a wide variety to choose from. Giving a child free reign amongst books allows them to discover what they want to read, after all everyone is different. Any reading a child does in their leisure time should be reading they enjoy and don’t feel forced into or judged on.

It’s also important to remember that quality reading material doesn’t just have to be books. Magazines are valuable reading resources too and it’s essential that children know this. Reading a magazine can also be a less daunting prospect, especially for children who struggle with larger volumes of text, but magazines can be just as fun, engaging, and informative as a book. That’s one of the reasons our publication The Fact Factorywas created. It’s a magazine aimed at children who, for various reasons, find reading a little more challenging. The Fact Factory provides fun and factual information on a variety of STEM subjects in an appealing, colourful, and child-friendly way. 

Children are heavily influenced by what they see going on around them, especially what they witness from their parents and caregivers. After all, parents and caregivers are children’s first teachers. So, if children see their parents or caregivers regularly reading for pleasure, then children are more likely to follow their lead and read for pleasure themselves. However, if children mainly witness their parents and caregivers mindlessly scrolling on their phones, then they are more likely to follow in their footsteps. 

It does seem that in order to give children good reading habits and choice in their reading material that it is important the adults around them serve as role models. After all, reading for pleasure doesn’t just benefit children, it benefits adults too.  

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