New BookTrust research shows half of children in the UK don’t discuss their mental health and wellbeing with their parents

Published on: 10 September 2019

Reading together can help children share their worries as BookTrust gifts over 700,000 books to reception-age children across England.

New research has found that only just over half of children (51%) aged between 8 - 11 don’t speak with their parents when they are feeling stressed, sad or worried and a staggering 44% say that they try to forget about the problem or don’t say anything and deal with it on their own.

The research highlights the importance of reading for children’s mental health and comes as BookTrust give out over 700,000 free copies of Rob Hodgson’s laugh-out-loud picture book The Cave to every school starter in England as part of its annual Time to Read campaign.

Other research shows:

  • Overall, around 53% of those questioned said that in the past 12 months, their youngster has shown signs of emotional stress or anxiety.
  • More than two in five parents (42%) – who had children aged four to 11 – said their son or daughter has angry outbursts at home, with a further 13% saying they have them at school.
  • Asked what were the biggest causes of these issues, the most popular response was friendship problems (33%) followed by school work (26%), family life (20%) and bullying (18%).
  • Over a third of parents of children aged 4-11 (34%) worry about their child’s mental health at least once a week, and these worries appear well placed as almost two thirds (60%) of children aged 8-11 say they feel stressed, sad or worried at least once a month
  • 2 in 5 (39%) children aged 8-11 said they find it difficult to talk about their feelings or emotions.
  • 9 in 10 of parents (90%) aged 4-11 do agree that reading together is a useful tool to help open up conversations with their child, however almost 70% stopped reading to their children by the time they started at Key Stage 2 (7 years old).
  • It also showed that while most parents of four to 11-year-olds still read with their child (87%) around one in eight (13%) have stopped.

Diana Gerald, BookTrust CEO comments:

"Sharing a book is about so much more than simply reading a story together. It creates a wonderful closeness, and it’s also an opportunity to talk about the themes in the book, whether that’s separation anxiety, making friends, losing someone important or simply learning to be brave. 
It’s so easy to stop the bedtime story or other shared reading once children can read for themselves, but that magical ten minutes doesn’t just help engage children in stories and reading; it also relaxes them, helps them understand the world around them, and often stimulates important conversations about what’s going on in their lives. Our research shows that children love to be read with, and we hope that The Cave will prove hugely popular with families across the country.”

Time to Read

Time sharing stories is time well spent. We want parents and carers to keep reading to their child, even once they've reached primary school or started to read on their own.

If you read books together, it's a great way to bond, talk about the day, and have a lot of fun!

Find out more