Scottish Book Trust believes that every child deserves books—not just because they’re a source of joy and wonder, but because they provide ample benefits to readers.
Just 1 in 3 children and young people with fewer than 10 books at home say that they enjoy reading, according to the National Literacy Trust, compared with 3 in 5 of those with 50 or more books at home.
Children who own their own books are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age. They’re also nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading !
Conversely, children who don't have a book of their own at home are twice as likely to have low mental wellbeing.
Access to books
Research from the National Literacy Trust in 2022 showed that ‘More than 9 in 10 (93.5%) children and young people aged 8 to 18 say that they have a book of their own at home, meaning 1 in 15 (6.5%) do not.’
These statistics are a worrying indication of children’s present and future disadvantages.
Here at Scottish Book Trust, we know that access to books can have a long-term impact on how children develop, as well as their long-term success.
A 2018 study examining the effects of access to books, across 31 societies, found that those who left school at 15, but were surrounded by books as children, became as literate, numerate and technologically apt in adulthood as university graduates who grew up with only a few books.
In other words, access to books at a young age allows children to flourish, regardless of formal education.
There is a demonstrable difference between those with a book of their own at home, and those without, in terms of their enjoyment and confidence around reading.
3 in 4 children with a book of their own at home report enjoying reading, compared with 2 in 3 of those without a book of their own.
Moreover, 1 in 3 of those without a book of their own rated their own reading ability as not very good, compared to 19% with a book of their own.
The concern around inaccessibility to books is that, reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success– more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background, or their income.
This qualitative statistic is supported by further research. Save the Children’s Read On Get On campaignillustrates how reading for pleasure in a child’s early years is vital to closing the attainment gap, as well as enhancing wellbeing and quality of life in the long-term.
Further longitudinal studies of children born in Britainpoor vocabulary skills at age 5 were:found that those with
- Four times more likely to have reading difficulties in adulthood
- Three times as likely to have mental health problems
- Twice as likely to be unemployed as an adult
Moreover, the Family and Community Engagement Research Compendium found a range of benefits for children around having books in the home, including positive behavioural, educational and psychological outcomes and the fostering of a 'reading and scholarly culture', as well as increased bonding opportunities for parents and children.
What Scottish Book Trust are doing
Scottish Book Trust run two universal book gifting programmes – Bookbug and Read, Write, Count.
Between these two programmes, every child in Scotland between birth and age eight receives a total of 16 books across six bags, with an additional two books gifted to expectant parents in the Baby Box.
In researching the impact of these book gifting programmes over the last 11 years, Scottish Book Trust has discovered that 83% of parents and carers agreed that the book bags helped start their child on the journey to becoming a lifelong reader.
Find out how you can support Scottish Book Trust and our essential work in book gifting today!