BookTrust research highlights the importance of multiple 'reading influencers'

Published on: 09 October 2023

Findings from the BookTrust Family Survey show what a difference it makes when children are read to by lots of different people.

A child sitting in a woman's lap as they read The Very Hungry Caterpillar together

New BookTrust research finds that the more people in a child's life who are involved in influencing their reading, the more likely the child is to become a keen independent reader.

However, in this latest research, BookTrust found that nearly a third of children under 7 do not regularly read or share stories with different people. These children are missing out on the enjoyment that these 'reading influencers' bring and the crucial role they play in shaping long-term reading habits.

'Reading influencers' include different family members such as parents, siblings, grandparents, as well as teachers or other trusted people in their lives. These experiences have a marked impact on a child's love of reading.

69% of children aged 0-7 have more than one individual who regularly reads with them; 31% of children aged 0-7 do not experience regular reading with multiple people; 95% of mothers and 67% of fathers engage in regular reading with their children aged 0-7; in 37% of families, children aged 0-7 experience regular reading with their grandparents; in 27% of families, children aged 0-7 experience regular reading with their siblings - in 14% of families, children aged 0-7 experience regular reading with their aunts/uncles; 71% of children in school (aged 4-7) experience regular reading with their teachers

While just over a quarter of children regularly read with their siblings, their enjoyment of reading is heavily influenced by this experience.

"By drawing attention to the importance of multiple 'reading influencers' and their impact on children's experiences and later life outcomes, we hope to increase the number and range of people sharing stories and books with young children," said Ruthann Hughes, BookTrust's Director of Research and Impact.

BookTrust's Bookstart programme has been designed to support enjoyable and interactive shared reading experiences. The resources were developed with families and practitioners so they can easily be used by different 'reading influencers' with different levels of skills and confidence.

Ruthann continued: "At a time when the disadvantage gap is widening, it is essential that we support and encourage as many people as possible to read and share stories with young children so they can enjoy the life-transforming benefits of reading."

Download the full research briefing (English, PDF)

Topics: Research, News

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