Figures reveal more than 1,450 children in Portsmouth do not own 'a single book'

PARENTS are being urged to take advantage of reading incentives in Portsmouth as it was revealed more than 1,450 city children are unlikely to own a single book.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 5:06 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd January 2020, 7:42 pm
Data showed 1,452 children and young people aged between nine and 18 in Portsmouth do not own a single book

And across Fareham, Gosport and Havant it is thought that figure is 2,321.

A recent survey from the National Literary Trust found that in the UK 6.3 per cent of pupils aged between nine and 18 do not own books, sparking fears they are 'missing out.'

Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: 'Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing.

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'Yet far too many children are missing out on the chance to reach their full potential simply because they don’t have a book of their own at home.'

In Portsmouth a number of services and programmes are available to help introduce children to reading including the annual summer reading challenge, free library activities and book exchanges.

A Portsmouth City Council spokesman said: 'We support the work of the Book Trust by giving packs of free books to all Portsmouth parents registering a birth at the register office, along with a library membership form.

'More packs of free books are given to targeted families with two-year old children, all children in nurseries and to all reception-year children.'

For the council's education boss, Councillor Suzy Horton, there were links between poverty and access to reading. She said: 'We know that when children have well developed language, reading and writing they tend to do well across the board.

'Having worked in London I've seen the link between deprivation and education, you could ask a child what books they have at home and they'd say the Argos catalogue.'

She also said it was key children were encouraged to read about subjects that interest them, not just for reading's sake.

'Children often come to read through an interest in something, they get obsessed with dinosaurs or something like that and through that they read more,' she added.

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The Literary Trust data came from a survey of 56,906 children and young people aged from nine to 18 across the UK this year. The percentage result was then applied to the number of children in each area.

You can help provide books for children by visiting https://literacytrust.org.uk/support-us/fundraising/give-gift-reading-christmas/