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In the News

20% of parents are spending less on books for their children

Vicki Woolven

28th February 2023

We regularly hear about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the impacts for families in terms of heating their homes or being able to put enough food on the table. But what about the other impacts, such as buying books for your children? This is probably regarded as a minor impact so not really worthy of the front page. However, we also know that introducing children to books at an early age has a huge impact on their educational attainment. New research from the National Literacy Trust (NLT) has shown that 40% of parents are struggling financially, with 20% of them spending less on books - this can only increase the attainment gap between the rich and poor.

Parents are becoming increasingly reliant on libraries - however in many areas these vital resources have closed down, and even access to libraries in schools is on the decrease. Schools are not legally required to provide a dedicated library, and one in seven promary schools across the UK don't. Yet they are more vital than ever, particularly as one in six respondents said that their children were struggling more at school than they were a year ago. 40% of respondents also said that the school library was the only place that provided a calm and quiet reading environment for their children, as they didn't have space for this at home.

And it seems that the cost-of-living crisis has also had an impact on reading habits with 10% of parents and carers admitting that economic pressures meant that they were too exhausted and stressed to read with their children, a figure that almost doubled for those who were struggling financially.

A spokesman from the NLT has said: “We know that experiencing poverty and financial strain impacts children’s literacy – with families not being able to afford books and having less time and energy to spend reading, writing and talking to their children at home.”

There is hope though - author Cressida Cowell, when in post as Children's Laureate last year, made a renewed call to the government to invest in primary school libraries, stating that this investment would foster a love of reading and help to improve academic standards.

And currently the NLT has teamed up with Chase Bank for the second year running with the Chase Rewarding Futures school library programme. This is supported by Penguin Books and will see around 62,000 gain access to new library spaces, and hundreds of primary school teachers will be trained to help them implement this new reading for pleasure strategy.

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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