BookTrust relaunches Children’s Book Week for schools and families
to help avoid a generation of non-readers
BookTrust, the largest children’s reading charity in Britain today relaunches Children’s Book Week in a bid to help encourage more children to read for pleasure. Aimed at children of primary school age, the annual event is rolled out in partnership with several high profile children’s writers, schools and booksellers across seven different areas in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. This year, between 31st October – 4th November authors including Cressida Cowell, Nick Butterworth and Jon Mayhew will read stories, signed books and ran interactive workshops to help ignite a love of reading in children.
New research released today by BookTrust, polling 500 primary school teachers across the UK, found nearly three quarters of teachers (71%) believe that children need support from school and home if they are going to become readers.
The survey also found:
- Almost half of teachers questioned (49%) say the number one area that would help them encourage children to read more at school is if more parents prioritise reading with their children at home.
- Nearly all of the teachers surveyed (95%) said they need more help and advice finding great books to get kids excited about reading.
Children’s Book Week celebrates reading for enjoyment in schools and encourages educators to make time to read for fun and not just focus on literacy testing. At the inaugural Annual BookTrust Lecture, Michael Morpurgo, one of Britain’s best-loved children’s story tellers, recently advocated for schools to reinstate Storytime at the end of every school day to keep the joy of reading alive. The War Horse author argued that testing in schools, whilst important, kills the joy of reading and that during the early years’ children first must experience the wonder and joy of storytelling. At the inaugural Annual BookTrust Lecture he said, “give them the love of the story first; the rest will follow.”
Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of BookTrust said: “Children’s Book Week is a reminder of the widespread impact that books can have on our lives. There is evidence to suggest that children who read for pleasure are happier, healthier and do better in life. Making time to read with your children is essential for their development and wellbeing. All children should have the opportunity to engage with stories and rhymes as we know that this helps inspire a love of reading. Shared reading at home, and commitment from schools to demonstrate the fun of reading, both make a huge difference to attitudes and behaviour.”
One of the Children’s Book Week events is taking place at Elmhurst Primary School in Newham on 31st October where Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train your Dragon series will run reading sessions and interactive workshops with 360 Elmhurst pupils.
Shahed Ahmed, Head Teacher, Elmhurst Primary School said, “We’re delighted to be involved in Children’s Book Week and encouraging our pupils to read for pleasure is something we’re incredibly passionate about. Having someone as high profile as Cressida Cowell tell stories to the children, discuss their favourite books and get them interested in reading is fantastic. In fact, today Cressida will also be opening Elmhurst’s new library where the children had input in the books we chose for the shelves. We hope that our involvement in the event, as well as getting children to read in class and share their favourite stories with one another, will also encourage parents to do the same after school.”
Cressida Cowell, British children’s author, known for the How to Train your Dragon series said, “I love being part of campaigns like Children’s Book Week because they generate enormous excitement about reading and creativity. I really enjoy visiting schools and talking to children, and my message to them is that they can be writers or illustrators themselves. I began writing about Vikings when I was nine years old, and, decades later, those stories have evolved into a twelve-book series, and a film and TV franchise. The other wonderful aspect to Children’s Book Week is that it helps parents and schools working together to get children reading for pleasure. There’s a wealth of statistical evidence to show that a child who reads for pleasure has better life chances, is likely to be richer regardless of their education or social background. Reading a book with your kid (even after they can read independently) is an experience that will enrich both your lives.”
BookTrust’s Great Books Guide has been sent to every primary school across England, showcasing 60 books that are likely to appeal to children of primary school age. Children’s Book Week is part of BookTrust’s Time to Read campaign, which encourages families to keep reading together and sharing stories, even when children are beginning to read independently.
This research was commissioned in association with Censuswide. Other key findings include:
- According to the research, teachers (42%) say children are reading far less than they were five years ago and are alarmed at these dropping levels.Over half (54%) stress that there needs to be a greater focus on getting children to read for pleasure.
- Teachers said they face a number of barriers in the classroom with getting children interested in reading for enjoyment, with more than 60% saying there are too many distractions, whilst one fifth (19%) say reading for pleasure is not a priority for their school.
- London teachers feel the most overwhelmed by the task of trying to keep on top of the number of new children’s book each year with 44% of teachers saying this. Just 36% of teachers nationally said this.
- 47% of teachers say they would like to see more free reading for children included in the timetable.
Booktrust is the largest children’s reading charity in Britain. We work to inspire a love of reading in children because we know that reading can transform lives. We give out over 5 million carefully chosen books to children throughout the UK; every parent receives a BookTrust book in the baby’s first year. Our books, guidance and resources are delivered via health, library, schools and early years’ practitioners, and are supported with advice and resources to encourage the reading habit. Reading for pleasure has a dramatic impact on educational outcomes, well-being and social mobility, and is also a huge pleasure in itself. We are committed to starting children on their reading journey and supporting them throughout.
Research has shown that if a parent reads to their infant every day they will be almost 12 months ahead of those who are read to less often, in terms of their reading and language skills (Kalb, G & Van Ours, J.C. (2013) Reading to Young Children: A Head-Start in Life? Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research).
About Cressida Cowell
Cressida Cowell grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. She was convinced that there were dragons living on this island, and has been fascinated by dragons ever since. Cressida has written and illustrated twelve books in the popular How to Train Your Dragon series which has sold over 7 million copies worldwide, and is published in 38 languages.
How to Train Your Dragon is also an award-winning Dreamworks film series, and a TV series. Also the author of picture books, Cressida has won the Nestle Children’s Book Prize and has been shortlisted for many others. Last year she won Philosophy Now Magazine’s Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity.